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Islamic World News ( 9 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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His Defense of Hindus Was to Kill a Muslim and Post the Video

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Dec 2017 

Video of the pickax killing — and the killer’s rants — spread across India, reopening sectarian wounds.



 His Defense of Hindus Was to Kill a Muslim and Post the Video

 Terrorist Groups Vow Bloodshed over Jerusalem Decision, ISIS, Less So

 Perak Politicians, Islamic Activists Rally Against Trump to ‘Save Jerusalem’

 Syria: Infighting in Idlib, Hama Leaves over 440 Terrorists Dead

 JUI-S Chief Says Muslim World to Resist US Move



 His Defense of Hindus Was to Kill a Muslim and Post the Video

 "Can't End Terror Until We Uproot Islam," Said Union Minister, Old Video Surfaces

 Controversial Indian Salafist a Litmus Test for Malaysia on Counterterrorism

 India's oldest mosque and growing irrelevance of Muslim vote in Gujarat

 A few BJP leaders behaving like ISIS: Karnataka Home Minister



 Terrorist Groups Vow Bloodshed over Jerusalem Decision, ISIS, Less So

 US Isolated At UNSC As Allies Condemn Trump's Al-Quds Decision

 100 Jewish Studies Scholars Sign Petition Condemning Trump's Declaration

 Angry worshippers lash out against Trump across Muslim world

 Clashes erupt across West Bank over U.S. Jerusalem pivot

 Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

 Houthis refuse to hand over Saleh’s body to Red Cross

 US airstrikes kill five al-Qaida operatives in Yemen

 Israeli air strike, artillery shells hit Gaza, 25 injured

 2 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces after Trump's Quds move

 Muslim Brotherhood Vows to ‘Wage War’ Against U.S. Due to Trump’s Jerusalem Decision


Southeast Asia

 Perak Politicians, Islamic Activists Rally Against Trump to ‘Save Jerusalem’

 Malay NGO Wants UN Security Council to Block Trump’s Jerusalem Move

 Videos of IS defectors used to expose truth about terrorism

 Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi


Arab World

 Syria: Infighting in Idlib, Hama Leaves over 440 Terrorists Dead

 Saudi Film Wins Top Prize for Raising Awareness against Extremism

 Fire in Lebanon refugee settlement kills 7 Syrian children

 Bahrainis take to streets to condemn US Jerusalem al-Quds move

 Iraq in new push against Daesh holdouts as Abadi eyes victory

 Tens of Militants Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Syria

 Syrian Army Hits Terrorists' Movements in Aleppo Province

 Syrian Army Lays Siege on Terrorists in Southeastern Deir Ezzur

 ISIL Suffers Heavy Defeat in Clashes with Syrian Army in Homs Province

 Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorists in Hama Province

 Baghdad seeks funds to rebuild areas liberated from Daesh

 Kurds rap Abadi for comparing them to Daesh

 Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from Islamic State



 JUI-S Chief Says Muslim World to Resist US Move

 China Warns Citizens in Pakistan of Possible Terror Attacks

 Hafiz Saeed Launches Campaign in Pakistan against US' Move to Recognise Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

 US warns citizens against travelling to Pakistan

 UAE hands over MQM’s ex-leader Hammad Siddiqui to Pakistan


South Asia

 'Enforced Disappearance' Suspected In Bangladesh

 Taliban’s Major Treatment Facility Busted in Wardak Province

 1.5K Rohingya Refugees Arrive In Bangladesh per Week, Return Unsafe

 Hefazat Threatens To Lay Siege to US Embassy on December 13

 Pak envoy rejects Afghan-US claims terror sanctuaries in Pakistan

 Taliban suffer $4m financial loss as F-18s bomb drug labs in Helmand

 UN Warns Against Any Hasty Returns of Rohingya to Myanmar



 UK Criticizes Muslim Brotherhood, Defends Western Policy

 Muslim Dutch Politicians Blast US' Jerusalem Move

 Briton jailed for 10 years for joining Islamic State

 Macron, Tillerson meet in Paris to support Lebanese PM Hariri

 Islamic Org Claims Europeans Need Millions of Muslim Migrants to Pay Their Pensions



 Africans Enjoy Turkey's Religious Freedom

 Libya pushing to be removed from travel ban list

 Nigeria: Veiling Is Compulsory in Islam, Debate Unacceptable - Al-Azhar

 Nigeria: Offa Monarch Urges Nasfat to Complete Aseese Islamic Centre


North America

 Trump’s Travel Ban Takes Effect as Muslim Americans Face Increased Attacks

 Muslims Pray Outside White House to Protest Trump Jerusalem Move

 Tillerson warns Saudi Arabia about its actions in Middle East

 Protesters in NYC slam Trump's decision on Jerusalem al-Quds

 Trump travel ban and his tweets argued at federal appeals court

 Religious freedom bill hearing spurs talk on Muslim-majority nations

 U.S. Treasury Designates Jamaica-Based Islamic State Recruiter as Terrorist

 Trump Mideast advisor Dina Powell leaving white house

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




His Defense of Hindus Was to Kill a Muslim and Post the Video


DEC. 8, 2017

AHMEDABAD, India — The attack begins with a Hindu man, wearing a bright shirt and a white scarf, stepping off a motorbike carrying a long iron pickax. He pounces on an older Muslim man, attacking him from behind and striking him over and over.

“Babu, save my life! Save my life!” the Muslim man screams. He crumples to the ground, and a few seconds later, after several more blows from the pickax, he cries, “I’m dead, I’m dead.” He soon is.

The killing was captured on video — at the attacker’s request. He had his nephew film the entire incident with a phone and proudly posted it on social media, bragging that he had killed the man to protect his Hindu community from Muslim jihadists.

India’s biggest television channels aired the video and it jumped at light speed across the country on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, immediately stirring tensions. The Hindu-Muslim fault line in India can be very raw, and in recent years several Muslims have been lynched by Hindu mobs.

Some activists said the timing of the killing on Wednesday, in Rajasthan, in India’s west, was hardly a coincidence: 25 years ago to the day, Hindu supremacists demolished a 16th-century mosque in northeastern India, setting off Hindu-Muslim riots that killed 2,000 people and deeply set back relations between the communities.

Fears are now rising again. Extra police officers were deployed Friday in Rajasthan to discourage possible copycat killings by Hindus or revenge attacks by Muslims.

The killer’s videos have continued to circulate — he made several. And in his rants on video and to journalists he said he had killed the Muslim man for “roaming around” with a Hindu girl.

“The government of India must immediately intervene,” said Sanjoy Sachdev, chairman of Love Commandos, an Indian volunteer organization that helps couples fight off arranged marriages and deal with harassment from their families. “The government should shut down those videos.”

Police officials have identified the killer as Shambhu Lal Raigar, an on-again, off-again marble trader in his mid-30s. He was arrested on Thursday morning hiding at a relative’s house. According to police officials, Mr. Raigar confessed to the crime. He says as much on video, appearing in front of a statue of a Hindu god. “It may be good or bad, but I’ve done it,” he says. “If I have to die, then why not kill and die?”

The victim, seen in the video as a blurry image wearing a white Muslim prayer cap, was identified as Afrajul, a 50-year-old migrant laborer from the eastern state of West Bengal. Activists in the area said they did not know how much truth there was to the accusation that Mr. Afrajul, who was married with three children, was having an affair with a Hindu woman.

There is no doubt, however, that the subject of relations between Muslim men and Hindu women is a flash point.

Across India, Hindu supremacists have accused Muslim men of carrying out what they call “love jihad.” Hindu activists have urged young Hindu women to be on the lookout for Muslim men trying to lure them into marriage in order to convert them. Some politicians have turned “love jihad” into a rallying cry, using it to win votes — and polarize communities.

India’s Supreme Court is currently trying to untangle a messy case of a Hindu family in Kerala that said their daughter was forced to convert to Islam after being recruited by Islamist extremists. The young woman sharply disagreed, saying she had converted voluntarily and that she wanted to live with her husband.

Little is known about Mr. Raigar, the killer in the video, who comes across on camera as educated and calculated. He speaks at length about how black-clad jihadists want to destroy his community. He refers to the mosque demolition that happened in 1992.

He first posted his videos on a WhatsApp group, Rajasthan activists said, and people in his community began forwarding it. According to the activists, Mr. Raigar lured Mr. Afrajul to a thinly populated area outside of Rajsamand, a midsize city, by promising him work as a day laborer.

At the end of the killing video, Mr. Raigar sprinkles kerosene on Mr. Afrajul’s body, sets it on fire and calmly walks away.



Terrorist Groups Vow Bloodshed over Jerusalem Decision, ISIS, Less So


DEC. 8, 2017

Osama bin Laden was just 14 when his mother noticed that he had stopped watching his favorite Westerns. She found him fixated instead on news reports about Palestinians, tears streaming down his face as he watched TV in their home in Saudi Arabia.

“In his teenage years, he was the same nice kid,” his mother related. “But he was more concerned, sad and frustrated by the situation in Palestine,” she said, according to Lawrence Wright’s account of bin Laden’s trajectory and Al Qaeda’s rise in his book, “The Looming Tower.”

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has long been one of the themes invoked by jihadists to push a narrative of Muslim victimhood and to fan an us-versus-them framework. So it’s of little surprise that Qaeda affiliates across the world reacted with venom after President Trump this week recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that was also denounced by Arab leaders.

The Taliban, Hamas and Shia extremist leaders also railed against the move.

But the outlier was the Islamic State, which waited until Friday to publish an editorial in its weekly newsletter — one that appeared to be mainly concerned with critiquing what it saw as hypocritical and self-serving statements by other jihadist groups and Arab leaders.

“How did ISIS respond to US announcement on #JerusalemEmbassy move? Outrage? Nope. Call to jihad? Not really,” the independent researcher Raphael Gluck wrote on Twitter. He added, “ISIS takes a stab at rival terror and Islamist groups accusing them of politicizing Palestinian cause to suit their own agendas.”

1. How did ISIS respond to US announcement on #JerusalemEmbassy move? Outrage? Nope.

Call to jihad? Not really.

In weekly Naba newspaper ISIS takes a stab at rival terror & Islamist groups accusing them of politicizing the Palestinian cause to suit their own agendas. Why?

— Raphael Gluck (@einfal) Dec. 8, 2017

The article published by the Islamic State began: “Sixty years and Jerusalem has been in the hands of the Jews, and it is only now that people cry when the Crusaders announced today as their capital,” according to a translation provided by the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the group’s propaganda.

“Are these cries over an issue to which they are accustomed to crying every time it is mentioned?” it added. “Or is it a new opportunity for the traders of faith and the fraudulent ones to raise their voices again?”

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, argued that the focus should instead be on working to defeat the Arab countries ringing Israel, which they say “surround it the same way a bracelet surrounds the wrist, protecting the Jews from the strikes of the mujahideen.”

Even as the Islamic State’s official line played down the White House move, the group’s followers in chat rooms on the messaging app Telegram have busied themselves making revenge posters.

One shows Israeli and American flags burning in a pyre, with the signature dome of the Old City’s Al Aqsa Mosque pictured in the background. Images of Al Aqsa — one of the holiest sites in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount — have been used in generations of jihadist propaganda.

“Wait for violent attacks on American and Jewish embassies by the wolves of the Islamic State,” the text alongside the images said.

That message was more in line with that of other terrorist groups, especially Al Qaeda. The world’s perceived indifference to the plight of the Palestinians is proof, jihadists say, of the second-class status of Muslims, and evidence that only through violence will Muslims regain their dignity.

The spokesman for the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, called Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem “an aggression against Islam.” He urged its followers to pick up arms in revenge, according to SITE Intelligence.

“The Jews do not have the right to a grain of sand of Palestine and Jerusalem,” Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen railed. Qaeda’s largest branch, in Syria, said, “We emphasize that whatever was taken by force can only be retrieved by force.”

And from Mali to Yemen to Afghanistan, jihadist groups ridiculed Mr. Trump. On his Telegram channel, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, an influential Qaeda ideologue, posted a YouTube clip from a campaign rally last year, when Mr. Trump appeared startled after hearing a commotion behind him. He called Mr. Trump a “coward” and an easy mark, urging future terrorists to do their best to “surprise” him.



Perak politicians, Islamic activists rally against Trump to ‘Save Jerusalem’


December 09, 2017

IPOH, Dec 8 — Chanting “Long live Palestine” and “Crush Zionists”, some 20 people rallied outside the state mosque here after Friday prayers today protesting the US government’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The representatives were politicians from the Pakatan Harapan Opposition parties as well as non-governmental organisations, including the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) and the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisation (Mapim).

Among the protesters was Perak PKR Youth’s legal bureau chief Khairul Anuar Musa who called for a strong boycott of US and Israeli products.

“The problem with us is that [we] boycott their products intermittently. We must do it for good and empty their pockets,” he called out.

“The US has made a mistake by electing this man as president,” he added, referring to Donald Trump, who yesterday signed a declaration recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, upending decades of US foreign policy in the strife-riddled Middle East. “This is an arrogant and stupid move and we must rise against it,” Khairul said.

Jerusalem is regarded as a holy city by Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities worldwide and arguments over its status have been the thorniest subjects to a lasting peace between the Zionist regime of Israel and mainly Muslim Palestine.

Malaysia has long been sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle over its lost lands.

Mohd Fahmy Sarangat, deputy president of the Perak chapter of Ikram — another Islamic group — called on Muslims worldwide to speak up and spread awareness about the impact on Palestine.

“We are not alone in this, as we have seen people worldwide express their outrage against Trump’s announcement.

“We have a duty to spread awareness about this issue to our friends, neighbours, and everyone we know. We have to show how wrong this decision really is,” he said.

Mapim deputy president Zulkifli Ibrahim called Trump’s announcement one of the “biggest crimes” against Islam.

“There is anger all over the world because Baitulmaqdis is a holy land for Muslims. The US and Israel have challenged us for a long time and there should be no compromise,” he said.

Baitulmaqdis is what Muslims here call Jerusalem.

“We should rise to voice our opposition to this, regardless of whether we are NGOs, government or Opposition,” Zulkifli added.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has drawn global condemnation, including leaders in Malaysia and Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population.

US allies in Europe and elsewhere have been swift to distance themselves from the move.

Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak told his party at its general assembly in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that Muslims will never accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Umno members are planning to hold a large scale rally in solidarity with Palestine over the recognition.



Syria: Infighting in Idlib, Hama Leaves over 440 Terrorists Dead

Dec 08, 207

The SOHR said that heavy infighting among terrorist groups began in October, when the ISIL launched an attack against the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northeastern Hama, the AMN reported.

As a result of the ISIL offensive, the terrorist group has now entered the Idlib province and captured several towns in the province in Northwestern Syria, it added.

In the meantime, Al-Nusra terrorists have come under a heavy attack from the Syrian Army troops near the strategic village of al-Rahjan.



JUI-S chief says Muslim world to resist US move

December 9, 2017

NOWSHERA: Urging the Muslim world to show unity and resist the move, Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) chairman and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq on Friday said that US President Donald Trump had challenged the entire Ummah by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Speaking at a public rally here, the JUI-S chief said Trump's announcement was an endorsement of Israeli actions and their unlawful act of occupying Jerusalem forcefully. Maulana Sami said that none of the Muslim leaders had the ability to resist the US move as they were the western puppets. He said that he had differed with religious scholars over the declaration of jihad by the state, saying that none of the Muslim leaders can declare jihad against the US and Israel.

Maulana Hamidul HaqHaqqani, Maulana Irfanul Haq, Maulana Ghaforullah and trader's leader Habib Aslam also addressed the protesters. The JUI-S chief said that the US would continue with its anti-Islam policies and would hatch conspiracies against other sacred places if the Muslim world did not resist the current action. "All the holy sites are located in the areas which have been declared part of greater Israel," he said, adding that the prime responsibility fell on the Saudi leaders and the 40-nation military alliance to play a role in resisting the anti-Islam moves.





"Can't End Terror Until We Uproot Islam," Said Union Minister, Old Video Surfaces

December 08, 2017

BENGALURU:  Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde has landed in another controversy after actor Prakash Raj tweeted a video of a hate speech he reportedly made almost two years ago.

The video, reportedly from March, 2016, shows Mr Hegde saying, "As long as there is Islam in the world, there will be terrorism. Until we uproot Islam, we can't remove terrorism."

Mr Hegde, who is a BJP leader from Karnataka, also said, "If there is opportunity in the media - write exactly this. Telecast exactly this. Islam is a bomb for world peace. There will be no peace in the world as long as Islam is there." The five-time parliamentarian was not a minister then.

Sharing the video on Twitter, Prakash Raj said, "This minister says  ..."Islam should be wiped out in this world” when he talks of HINDUTVA does he mean it's a way of life...#justasking." The actor, who has been critical of the BJP over a range of issues recently, also said, "Who are you guys...Are you guys reincarnation of Germans HITLER (sic)."

49-year-old Anantkumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this week a case was registered against him for allegedly abusing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress in a speech in Kittur of Belagavi district recently.

A local Congress leader in Mysuru filed the police complaint alleging that Mr Hegde had said the chief minister would "lick boots for vote and seat."

Soon after he was appointed minister in this year's cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CCTV footage of Mr Hegde slapping a doctor was widely circulated.

The five-time parliamentarian was seen striking the doctor, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him against a wall. He was apparently furious because he felt the doctors were not paying enough attention to his mother, who had suffered multiple fractures after a fall at home.

Mr Hegde's elevation as a central minister in the September reshuffle was seen to be part of the BJP's strategy to increase representation in the cabinet, of states where elections will be held soon.

The BJP hopes to return to power in Karnataka, due for assembly elections in 2018.



Controversial Indian Salafist a Litmus Test for Malaysia on Counterterrorism

By Joseph Hammond

December 08, 2017

Controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik is vowing to fight an extradition request sent to Malaysia regarding terrorism-related charges.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed terrorism charges against Naik accusing him of influencing Indian Muslims to join the Islamic State (ISIS). It also declared his Mumbai-based NGO, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), an unlawful organization.

“Naik is accused of a number of offenses including spreading communal hatred,” said Animesh Roul, executive director of the New Delhi-based Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict.

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The government of Malaysia is considering extraditing the preacher back to India and is monitoring his movements. The case comes at an interesting time for Malaysia, which is attempting to re-assert itself as a force in regional counterterrorism efforts and improve ties with India.

“We monitor him because this person has a very ‘interesting personality’ and he attracts a lot of attention,” said Mohammed Fuzi Harun, the inspector-general of Royal Malaysia Police. Harun, who has been at his post since September, has taken a special interest in cracking down on extremism and terrorism. He also told the Malaysian press that Naik has not applied for Malaysian citizenship, a move which would likely prevent his extradition to India.

Naik is regarded as one the most influential Salafi evangelists in the world today. He rose to prominence in the 1990s by preaching in English, not in Urdu, which allowed him to reach a wider audience. As a televangelist on his very own Peace TV or through social media, his austere version of Islamic thinking has reached millions of people – mostly in Asia.

Naik has given contradictory claims regarding the relationship between his organization and the key suspects in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, which killed 209 people and injured more than 700. In 2016, reports revealed one of the perpetrators, Rahil Shiekh, had volunteered at Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).  Naik claims he never met Shiekh.

Naik’s preaching has long drawn criticism for his radical views. He voiced support for Osama bin Laden and in a 2006 lecture asked “every Muslim to be a terrorist.”

Naik has claimed that some of his comments were taken out of context and says he condemns terrorism.

Some Indian Muslims and the Qatari state-funded media network Al Jazeera have argued that Naik’s case is part of ongoing discrimination against Muslims in India. Naik’s lawyer has stated that the case is politically motivated.

Malaysia’s response to India’s request for extradition should provide insight into its changing attitudes toward terror. Five years ago it granted permanent residency to Naik, whose radical views have led Bangladesh, Canada, and the United Kingdom to deny him visas in the past.

“Zakir Naik’s permanent residency status in that country [Malaysia] will help him further [his case] as he has no criminal record in that country,” said Roul.

However, during the past year, Malaysia has been cracking down on extremists both within the country and in Malaysia’s near abroad. Malaysia’s position regarding Naik represents an about-face – just a few years ago, in addition to being granted residency, he apparently even met with Prime Minister Najib Razak. Malaysia’s apparent willingness to extradite Naik now reflects the country’s increased involvement in fighting terrorism not only at home but within Asia at large.

This year Malaysia’s prime minister made two important international visits to the United States and India, which demonstrated a new approach to counterterrorism policy.

During an April trip to New Delhi, Najib signed agreements, including a pledge to work closely on counterterrorism and security efforts. Following that meeting, a senior Malaysian naval commander met with his counterparts and visited Indian naval bases in early November.

Naik’s “extradition, if it happens, would be a major boost for already robust bilateral ties. In the past Malaysia helped India in detaining an influential Italian businessman in connection to the Bofors payoffs scandal in the early 2000s,” Roul said.

In September, Najib traveled to the United States for a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. After the conversation between the leaders of the two countries Malaysia agreed to new data sharing and enhanced passenger screening with the United States

Najib and Trump have personal ties that extend beyond Trump’s tenure as a politician. The two played a round of golf together at Trump’s New Jersey golf course years before Trump ran for president. They also met on the sidelines of a summit between the United States and Islamic nations held in Riyadh earlier this year, during Trump’s first international visit as president.

Regional terrorism is especially concerning to Malaysia. The Battle of Marawi in the neighboring Philippines was another factor that has contributed to Malaysia’s stepped up counterterrorism efforts. Earlier this year, hundreds of extremists from Indonesia and Malaysia traveled to the southern Philippine city to establish a foothold for ISIS in that country.

Between May and late October, the city, located on the island of Mindinao, was the site of fighting between Philippine security forces and insurgents. The battle left over 1,000 dead on both sides and displaced 1.1 million people from their homes.

The debate over Naik has revealed fault lines in Malaysia’s domestic politics. Zaid Ibrahim, a former government minister and member of the opposition Democratic Action Party, recently criticized Naik’s presence in Malaysia. In the past, Malaysia’s Hindu Rights Action Force has also called for Naik’s expulsion. Roughly 40 percent of Malaysia’s population is non-Muslim. Conversely, Malaysia’s opposition Islamic Party (PAS) has encouraged the government to ignore any Indian extradition request.

Naik has not commented publicly about his predicament. In October, Naik was spied leaving a prominent mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia located just a stone’s throw from the prime minister’s office.

Full report at:



India's oldest mosque and growing irrelevance of Muslim vote in Gujarat

Dec 8, 2017

GHOGHA: On the the eve of the first phase of voting in Gujarat, Election With Times travelled to what is believed to be the oldest mosque in India: the Barwada Juni Masjid in Ghogha in Bhavnagar.

The mosque is said to have been built by Arab traders in the Prophet's time and is the only mosque whose mehrab points towards Jerusalem, as per the tradition in the Prophet's early years. In contrast, all the mosques built later point towards Mecca as per the Prophet's directions.

Election With Times: In this special episode from Juni Masjid, we discuss the growing irrelevance of the Muslim vote in Gujarat. Muslims constitute 9.67% of the Gujarat electorate and remain pivotal in 30 out of 182 assembly seats. However, like in UP, BJP is not fielding any Muslim candidate in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, Congress will field 6 Muslim candidates (1 less than in 2012).

The BJP did not acquiesce to the Minority Morcha's demand for Muslim candidates in six seats (Jamalpur-Khadia, Vejalpur, Vagra, Wankaner, Bhuj and Abdasa).

In fact, BJP has fielded only one Muslim candidate for assembly polls (in 1995) in Gujarat since 1980. Abdul Gani Kureshi contested as a BJP candidate from Vagra in 1995 and lost to Congress by 26,439 votes.

Yet, BJP fielded 325 Muslim candidates in 2010 panchayat and municipal polls: 245 of them won. BJP also fielded 450 Muslim candidates in 2015 panchayat and municipal polls.

Full report at:



A few BJP leaders behaving like ISIS: Karnataka Home Minister

December 8, 2017

Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy has stoked a controversy with his remarks that a few BJP leaders were behaving like terror group ISIS. “I never called all the BJP leaders terrorists. I said only a few BJP leaders are behaving like ISIS,” Reddy said. He was asked about his reported remarks at Belagavi calling BJP leaders “terrorists”. The opposition BJP has reacted angrily to Reddy’s remarks, alleging that Karnataka has become a “hub for jihadi activities” due to these “mindsets who govern the state”.

However, Reddy said, “I am the first person to condemn ISI, ISIS and Jihadis. These (BJP) leaders are trying to foment communal passion in the state by giving provocative statements.” He hit out at Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Ananthkumar Hegde and BJP Lok Sabha member from Mysuru-Kodagu Prathap Simha, accusing them of “provoking people”. “… My statement was basically against these two leaders who are trying to disturb peace in the state,” the minister told PTI. Reddy said ever since he became the home minister, he has been noticing that certain BJP leaders were trying to provoke people.

Hitting back at Reddy, state senior BJP leader S Suresh Kumar said on his Facebook page: “We all have been likened with ISIS. I want to know whether police will catch us or we have to surrender before the police.” “Karnataka has been a hub for Jihadi activities thanks to these mindsets who govern the state,” BJP Lok Sabha member Shobha Karandlaje tweeted.

In another tweet, she said, “Outrightly condemn HM Reddy’s statement of comparing BJP with terrorists. Has the minister lost his senses or is he trying to please the Jihadis?”. Reddy’s attack on BJP came days after Simha was arrested during a protest against alleged restrictions on celebration of ‘Hanuman Jayanti’ at Hunsur in Mysuru district. According to police, a case has been registered against Hegde for allegedly using derogatory words against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in a speech at Kittur in Belagavi district, recently.

Full report at:





US isolated at UNSC as allies condemn Trump's al-Quds decision

Dec 8, 2017

The US has become isolated at the UN Security Council as Washington's traditional allies condemn President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Security Council convened an emergency meeting with regard to Palestine on Friday upon the request of Britain, France, Sweden, Bolivia, Uruguay, Italy, Senegal and Egypt.

Following the session, the US' traditional Western allies -- Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy -- issued a joint statement, denouncing Trump's decision as "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region."

"We stand ready to contribute to all credible efforts to restart the peace process, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, leading to a two-state solution," they said.

"We encourage the US administration to now bring forward detailed proposals for an Israel-Palestinian settlement," the statement added.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned the Security Council against the risk of violent escalation, saying, "There is a serious risk today that we may see a chain of unilateral actions, which can only push us further away from achieving our shared goal of peace."

In response, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused the international organization of undermining the peace prospects by "bullying" Israel.

"Israel will never be, and should never be, bullied into an agreement by the United Nations, or by any collection of countries that have proven their disregard for Israel's security," Haley said.

She claimed that the US has not adopted any stance on Jerusalem al-Qud's boundaries, and that it is not advocating any changes to the arrangements at the holy sites.

Trump on Wednesday defied global warnings and said the US formally recognizes Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the occupied city, breaking with decades of American policy.

'US not mediator anymore'

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the emergency meeting that Washington's new decision "undermines and essentially disqualifies its leadership role to seek peace in the region."

He argued that the US cannot continue to monopolize the peace process as Washington is biased in favor of Israel and urged the Security Council to denounce what he described as an "irresponsible" US decision.

Mansour called on the Security Council to reject any violation of its position that the status of Jerusalem al-Quds is unresolved and it should be negotiated based on the so-called two-state solution.

The Palestinian envoy warned that the existing conflict can turn "into a never-ending religious war that will only be exploited by extremists, fueling more radicalism, violence and strife in the region and elsewhere."

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Palestinian leaders declared Friday as the “day of rage” against Israel and the US.

Clashes broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Friday prayers in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip. At least two Palestinians were killed and about 770 others were injured during the unrest.

Jerusalem al-Quds remains at the core of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians hoping that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.



100 Jewish studies scholars sign petition condemning Trump's declaration

Dec 8, 2017

More than 100 Jewish studies scholars have condemned President Donald Trump’s announcement of the US recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

In a petition released on Thursday, at least 110 signatories from universities and colleges across the United States called on Trump to cancel the controversial decision.

"We write as Jewish Studies scholars to express our dismay at the Trump administration's decision to reverse decades of bipartisan US policy by declaring Jerusalem [al-Quds] the capital of Israel, and authorizing the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv," the petition read.

"A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem [al-Quds] adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence,” it added.

The petition said the Israeli regime is perpetrating "systematic inequalities" against the Palestinian people.

"Palestinian residents of Jerusalem [al-Quds] endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city's budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement," the petition argued.

"In addition, Palestinians in the West Bank, unlike Jewish Israelis resident in that territory, require a special permit to visit Jerusalem [al-Quds]’s holy sites," it continued.

In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump officially declared Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, saying his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."

The US leader also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”

Full report at:



Angry worshippers lash out against Trump across Muslim world

By Karin Laub and Ilan Ben Zion

December 8, 2017

JERUSALEM — Large crowds of worshippers across the Muslim world staged anti-U.S. marches Friday, some stomping on posters of Donald Trump or burning American flags in the largest outpouring of anger yet at the U.S. president’s recognition of bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In the holy city itself, prayers at Islam’s third-holiest site dispersed largely without incident, but Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in several dozen West Bank hotspots and on the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli warplanes struck Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip Friday in response to a rocket fired from the zone that Israel’s military said was intercepted by its Iron Dome missile-defense system.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 15 people were injured in Friday’s air strikes.

Earlier, a 30-year-old Gaza man was killed by Israeli gunfire, the first death of a protester since Trump’s dramatic midweek announcement. Two Palestinians were seriously wounded, health officials said.

Dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were hit by live rounds or rubber-coated steel or inhaled tear gas, the officials said.

Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem triggered warnings from America’s friends and foes alike that he is needlessly stirring more conflict in an already volatile region.

The religious and political dispute over Jerusalem forms the emotional core of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The ancient city is home to major Muslim, Jewish and Christian shrines and looms large in the competing national narratives of Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is widely seen in the region as a blatant expression of pro-Israel bias, but it was unclear if protests and confrontations would maintain momentum after Friday. More extensive violence has erupted in the Palestinian areas in the past, including deadly bloodshed triggered by disputes over Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and other groups had called for three “days of rage” this week. However, Abbas remains an opponent of violence, saying it’s counterproductive and that he might at some point order his security forces to contain protests.

Separately, Fatah’s rival, the Gaza-based Islamic militant Hamas, called this week for a third uprising against Israel, but such appeals have fizzled as Palestinians become more disillusioned with their leaders.

On Friday, demonstrators in the West Bank torched heaps of tires, sending columns of thick black smoke rising over the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Palestinian stone-throwers traded volleys in the streets with soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Along the Gaza-Israel border fence, Israeli troops fired at stone-throwers.

Across the region — from Asia’s Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan to North Africa’s Algeria and Lebanon in the Levant — thousands of worshippers poured into the streets after midday prayers to voice their anger. Some protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags or stomped Trump posters that showed the president alongside a Nazi swastika.

In Jordan’s capital of Amman, thousands marched through the center of town, chanting “America is the head of the snake.”

Pro-Western Jordan is a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic extremists, but King Abdullah II cannot afford to be seen as soft on Jerusalem. His Hashemite dynasty derives its legitimacy from its role as guardian of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site.

Trump’s decision has also strained U.S. foreign relations.

U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that Trump’s announcement created a “serious risk” of a chain of unilateral actions that would push the goal of peace further away.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour warned of the danger of “a never-ending religious war that will only be exploited by extremists, fueling more radicalism, violence and strife in the region and elsewhere.”

Even traditional U.S. allies sharply criticized Trump’s decision.

Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog said the U.S. action “contradicts international law and Security Council resolutions.” Britain’s Ambassador Matthew Rycroft called the U.S. decision “unhelpful to peace,” the French envoy expressed regret and Italy’s Sebastiano Cardi warned of “the risk of unrest and tensions in the region.”

The U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley, told the council that the Trump administration is more committed to peace “than we’ve ever been before — and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before.” Haley did not explain.

In Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday played down the impact of Trump’s policy shift, which also included a pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Tillerson said it will likely take years for the U.S. to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

In a news conference with the French foreign minister, Tillerson said Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital “did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem.”

The United States is making clear that Jerusalem’s borders will be left to Israelis and Palestinians to “negotiate and decide,” he said.

Most countries around the world have not recognized Israel’s 1967 annexation of east Jerusalem and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. Under a longstanding international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.

Trump’s announcement delivered a blow to Abbas, a supporter of the idea of reaching Palestinian statehood through U.S.-led negotiations with Israel. In siding with Israel on Jerusalem, he has said, the Trump administration effectively disqualified itself as a mediator.

However, Abbas has not decided how to move forward, including whether he will rule out future U.S.-brokered negotiations. Trump has said he still intends to propose a Mideast peace deal.

More than two decades of intermittent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have failed to bring the Palestinians closer to statehood. Some in Abbas’ inner circle say the old paradigm, with the U.S. serving as mediator, is no longer relevant.

On Thursday, a senior Fatah official said the Palestinians would not receive Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the West Bank later this month, but it was not immediately clear if the official spoke for Abbas.

The Arab League, an umbrella group of close to two dozen states, is to meet Saturday to try to forge a joint position, followed next week by a gathering in Turkey of the 57-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Turkish officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Turkey next week for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Jerusalem’s status and other issues.


Laub reported from Jericho, West Bank. Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, Alice Su in Amman, Jordan, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations also contributed to this report.

Full report at:



Clashes erupt across West Bank over U.S. Jerusalem pivot

December 8, 2017

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and Gaza, and Muslim worshippers from Jordan to Indonesia poured into the streets after Friday prayers to protest President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Protesters burned Israeli and U.S. flags or stomped on Trump posters in displays of anger.

In the West Bank, demonstrators torched heaps of tires, sending columns of thick black smoke rising over the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Palestinian stone-throwers traded volleys in the streets with soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv residents on U.S. Embassy move: Let Jerusalem have it

Clashes were also reported on the border between Gaza and Israel.

Three Palestinians, two of them in Gaza, were wounded by live ammunition and 12 were hit by rubber-coated steel pellets, according to Red Crescent paramedics and health officials.

Dozens more suffered from tear gas inhalation, medics said.

Trump’s seismic policy shift on Jerusalem has angered Arabs and Muslims who view it as an expression of blatant pro-Israel bias on one of the region’s most explosive religious and political disputes.

Jerusalem is home to major Muslim and Christian shrines, as well as Judaism’s holiest site. The Israeli-annexed eastern sector, captured by Israel in 1967, is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital, while Israel says it won’t relinquish any part of Jerusalem.

Palestinian political groups had called for massive demonstrations Friday in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — the lands captured by Israel in 1967 and sought for a Palestinian state.

Separately, the Gaza-based leader of the Islamic militant Hamas agitated for a third uprising against Israel.

On Friday, the militant al-Qaida network urged followers around the world to target vital interests of the United States, its allies and Israel. A statement posted on al Qaeda’s media arm as-Sahab called for holy war or jihad and described America as an oppressor of Muslims.

Street protests were held Friday across the region. Marches were staged in Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Jordan.

In the Jordanian capital of Amman, hundreds of protesters chanted “Jerusalem is Arab” and “America is the head of the snake.”

Demonstrators stomped on a poster that showed Trump alongside a Nazi swastika.

Thousands of worshippers at a traditional flashpoint, Jerusalem’s OId City, dispersed quietly after noon prayers.

The Old City is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is Islam’s third holiest shrine and stands on the remnants of Judaism’s holiest site. One of the compound’s outer walls is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

In the past, Israeli authorities often imposed age restrictions, barring younger Muslims from entering the Al Aqsa compound during periods of tensions, but did not do so Friday.

The preacher at Al Aqsa told worshippers that the city will “remain Muslim and Arab.”

“All we want from the Arab and Muslim leaders is action and not statements of denunciation,” Sheikh Yousef Abu Sneineh said to the approximately 27,000 worshippers.

Around 2,000 people later gathered in the plaza around the mosque, chanting: “With our soul and blood, we will defend Al Aqsa and Jerusalem.”

For decades, the United States had professed neutrality on the fate of Jerusalem, in line with an international consensus that the fate of the holy city should be determined in negotiations.

Trump’s dramatic policy shift, announced Wednesday, has triggered widespread international condemnation, including from U.S. allies. Several European leaders have warned the U.S. shift could further destabilize the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron said after a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that he was “launching an appeal for calm and responsibility.”

Full report at:



Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

December 9, 2017

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s leader is seeking to spearhead Islamic reaction to the US declaration on Jerusalem, but it is uncertain if he can coordinate a meaningful response among often disunited Muslim nations.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, had fulminated against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital even before it was officially announced this week.

Erdogan described the status of the city, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims.

With Trump disregarding such warnings, the Turkish president used his position as the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the pan-Islamic group.

“He is seeking to garner an international response,” said Ziya Meral, resident fellow at the British Army’s Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, noting Erdogan had spoken to Muslim allies and non-Islamic leaders.

“What Turkey can do tangibly next is far from clear and responses have risks for Erdogan and Turkey,” he told AFP.

‘Exacerbate the malaise’

Turkey in 2016 agreed to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel after the crisis triggered by the deadly storming by Israel of a Turkish ship seeking to break the Gaza blockade in 2010.

Cooperation has resumed, most significantly in energy. But Erdogan has rarely mustered much public enthusiasm for ties with Israel and retains warm relations with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Erdogan’s supporters proudly recall how he famously walked out of a January 2009 debate in Davos with then Israeli president Shimon Peres, complaining he was not given enough time to respond and repeatedly saying “one minute!”.

The Turkish leader has left diplomatic niceties aside in warning his US counterpart of the dangers of the move, using the backyard-style rhetoric he usually keeps for bitter enemies.

“Hey Trump! What do you want to do?” Erdogan said Thursday. “What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace!”

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it was unclear if Erdogan’s strong reaction would have any impact on Trump.

“What is clear is that the Jerusalem issue will inevitably exacerbate the malaise in the US-Turkish relationship, which was already under considerable strain.”

Trump’s arrival as US leader was welcomed by Ankara but relations have hit new trouble due to rows over the Syria conflict, an explosive legal case in New York and even a mutual visa suspension.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) shares an “ideological affinity” with Hamas.

This suggests “Erdogan can never be an honest broker on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” he said.

‘Flag bearer for Muslim alliances’

The Istanbul summit of the OIC — an organisation founded in 1969 after an arson attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem — will offer Erdogan the chance to showcase his status as a global Muslim leader.

But it remains unclear if he will be able to come close to shifting the 57 members — including arch foes like Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia — into anything resembling a coordinated position.

“Turkey… will seek a prominent role in coordinating Muslim reactions to the US move,” wrote analysts Ofer Zalzberg and Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group (ICG).

But they added most leaders in the Gulf, Egypt and elsewhere are “likely to make do with rhetorical expressions of opposition” and were unlikely to risk sacrificing good relations with the US.

Crucially watched will be attendance from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s Egypt — a bete noire of Erdogan — and Gulf kingpin Saudi Arabia which is under the sway of powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has sought an enhanced role for the OIC. Thanks to his backing Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu — who later stood against Erdogan in presidential elections — was secretary general of the Jeddah-based group from 2004-2014.

“Turkey has attempted to be a flag bearer for Muslim alliances for the last 12 years to very limited outcomes,” said Meral of the British Army’s Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research.

Full report at:



Houthis refuse to hand over Saleh’s body to Red Cross

8 December 2017

Houthi militias refused to accommodate the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to hand over the body of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh whom they killed last Monday.

A source involved in the debacles in Sanaa confirmed that the ICRC along with a number of international organizations working in Yemen demanded that the Houthi militia hand over Saleh’s body and a number of other heads from his party whom they also killed. However, the Houthis would not oblige.

Yemeni news sites reported that the source who preferred not to be named said the reason the Houthis do not want to hand over Saleh’s body is because they want to open an investigation file themselves with the Attorney General.

A senior leader in the General People’s Congress Party had stated that after several failed attempts of tribal mediations and interventions, they requested the ICRC to get involved and convince the Houthis to hand over the body which is being kept in an unknown place until now.

Full report at:



US airstrikes kill five al-Qaida operatives in Yemen

9 December 2017

The US military says its airstrikes have killed five al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

Central Command said on Friday the airstrikes were carried out on Nov. 20 in the central Bayda province. It says those killed included Mujahid al-Adani, an al-Qaida leader in the neighboring province of Shabwa.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has long been seen by US officials as the most dangerous offshoot of the global network founded by Osama bin Laden.

Full report at:



Israeli air strike, artillery shells hit Gaza, 25 injured

Dec 8, 2017

Over two dozen Palestinians have been injured in Israeli artillery and air strikes against the besieged Gaza Strip, amid escalating tensions in the occupied territories in the wake of the US president's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital.

Israeli forces fired artillery shells at a checkpoint belonging to Palestinian resistance forces in the northeast of the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, on Friday night.

An Israeli jet also targeted a group of resistance fighters in the east of Beit Hanoun, the Palestinian Information Center said, adding that they survived the air strike.

Palestinian sources said Israel also carried out an air strike on the town of Beit Lahia.

Three Israeli rockets were fired at Shaikh Zayed area in northern Gaza.

Reuters cited the Palestinian Health Ministry a saying that 25 Palestinians, including six children, were injured in the attacks.

Tel Aviv claimed that Palestinian resistance forces had fired a number of rockets at an Israeli military position.

On Friday, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting against the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel despite widespread international opposition to the measure. Trump announced his decision on Wednesday. He said Washington would relocate the US embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

In reaction to the announcement, Palestinians staged rallies across the West Bank, Jerusalem al-Quds, and Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Mahmoud al-Masri, 30, was shot to death by Israeli forces in Gaza's southern city of Khan Yunis on Friday.

Full report at:



2 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces after Trump's Quds move

Dec 8, 2017

At least two Palestinians have been killed and about 770 others have sustained injuries when clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians demonstrating in protest against the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Tel Aviv regime despite widespread international opposition to the measure.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Palestinians staged rallies in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, located 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Jerusalem al-Quds, Bethlehem, Nablus, al-Khalil (Hebron).

Hundreds of people marched from Ramallah downtown to Israel’s Bet Eil army checkpoint after Friday noon prayers.

Clashes reportedly erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces across the West Bank, including the cities of Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya and Ariha (Jericho).

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said at least 612 people were injured in the West Bank after being struck with either live or rubber bullets, or inhaling excessive amounts of tear gas.

In Jerusalem al-Quds, meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians marched from the flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound to the Bab al-Amoud (also known as the Damascus Gate) shouting slogans against the United States and stressing the Arabic and Islamic identity of the city.

Israeli forces used live ammunition and teargas in return to disperse the protesters.

The PRCS also reported that it had provided medical treatment to a number of Palestinians, who had been savagely beaten by Israeli troops.

Separately, a protest against the US president's decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel was held in the besieged Gaza Strip. Scores of people were injured during skirmishes with Israeli forces, and had to be transported to the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City to receive medical treatment.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Mahmoud al-Masri, 30, was shot to death by Israeli forces in Gaza's southern city of Khan Yunis. It also said at least 155 people were injured in the clashes. The ministry said another Palestinian, identified as 54-year-old Maher Atallah, who had been shot by Israeli troops in Gaza, succumbed to his injuries hours later.

On Wednesday, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Full report at:


Muslim Brotherhood Vows to ‘Wage War’ Against U.S. Due to Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

8 Dec 2017

The terrorist-linked Muslim Brotherhood (MB), echoing other jihadist groups, has pledged to “shed blood” and “wage war” against the United States after President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and directed his government to move the American embassy to the city.

In an Arabic-language statement disseminated by the website, MB declares, “Jerusalem is an Islamic and Arab land, for which we shed blood, freedom, and life, and we wage war against every aggressor and every supporter of aggression.”

MB later urges “Palestinian factions and Islamic movements to ignite an uprising [‘intifada’] throughout the Islamic world against the Zionist occupation and the American administration.”

Protests against Trump’s decision have broken out in various Muslim-majority countries.

Echoing his MB ally, Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, also called for a new “intifada,” an uprising against Israel in response to the U.S. president’s decision.

The Brotherhood’s condemnation of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement is consistent with the position other terrorist groups, namely the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda, which have threatened a bloodbath in response to the American president’s move:

In the statement, MB proclaims, President Trump’s decision renders the United States “an enemy of the Arab world and international Islamic components,” later adding:

The American president has exploited the weakness of the Muslim world … and decided to support the Zionist lobby to support the Zionist project on the Palestinian territories, but he should know that his decision makes … [the United States] a state sponsor of the occupation. A country hostile to all freedom in various parts of the world.

Palestinians have designated East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state.

Territorial disputes have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian relationship with Jerusalem at the epicenter of the ongoing conflict.

Trump’s decision has drawn the ire of some U.S. allies and the Muslim world, which argues that the move will end so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, President Trump said Wednesday:

We are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula [refusing to move the American embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

Opposition to Trump’s announcement has made for some strange bedfellows, namely MB and countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have designated the group as a terrorist organization.

Despite Republicans being in control of Congress, lawmakers have not been able to pass GOP-sponsored legislation to officially name the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

Early this year, Reuters reported that a “factional” debate is taking place within the Trump administration over adding the Muslim Brotherhood to State’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt have all banned MB as a terrorist organization.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malay NGO wants UN Security Council to block Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 9, 2017

MELAKA, Dec 9 ― Non-governmental organisation Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam (DMDI) has urged the United Nations (UN) to call immediately for a Security Council meeting to block America’s proposal to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Its president Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam said DMDI would discuss the matter at its convention which will be held in Medan, Indonesia from December 13 to 15.

“We hope that the UN will hold a Security Council meeting as a move to stop America’s proposal,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

Ali, who is the former chief minister of Melaka, said America’s actions was in violation of human rights and went against the system of democracy and could lead to more suffering and abuse of the Palestinian people.

“It will cause continued animosity and tension between Palestine and Israel, as well as the other middle east countries, and be a cause of conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim nations all over the world as we all know that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land,” he said.

He said DMDI fully supported the stand by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who protested against the American president’s move and urged the world to be united in fighting it.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem soon.

The move has sparked anger and concern all over the world as it is seen as a violation of basic human rights. ― Bernama



Videos of IS defectors used to expose truth about terrorism

Zam Yusa

December 8, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Counter-terrorism material in several Southeast Asian languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, is being produced as part of a collaboration between a US think tank and the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) of the Malaysian foreign affairs ministry.

The initiative is called the “Breaking the ISIS Brand — Counter Narratives Project”.

It will see a team from the Washington-based International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) editing videos of defectors denouncing the group into short video clips to upload on the Internet to fight Islamic State’s (IS) online recruiting. The video clips are being subtitled in the 21 languages IS conducts its recruitments in.

They have been focus-tested with success in Central and Southeast Asia, the Balkans, Western Europe, Jordan, Iraq and the United States.

“We are partners in this initiative,” ICSVE director Anne Speckhard told FMT.

“SEARCCT is helping to subtitle our videos into relevant Southeast Asian languages, such as Malay and Burmese.

“We agree that counter narratives, such as the ICSVE ones that use disillusioned insiders from IS, can help break the IS brand.”

According to Speckhard, the “Breaking the ISIS Brand” counter-narrative project videos are being used in multiple countries to fight extremist recruitment of youths and adults.

They are also used in targeted interventions with foreign fighter returnees and to monitor drivers of radicalisation.

“Our hope is to offer powerful tools to de-legitimise terrorist groups and their ideologies and diminish social support for them globally,” she said.

ICSVE’s website says the project has been lauded by the White House, the US Senate, the US State Department and many foreign governments.

ICSVE research fellows are also currently focus-testing the videos for prevention and intervention purposes globally, specifically with IS endorsers on Facebook, YouTube and in Telegram chatrooms.

One of the videos in the project, entitled “You Blow Yourself Up”, is based on an interview with a Syrian IS defector nicknamed Abu Abdullah.

In this video clip, Abu Abdullah speaks about how IS brainwashed youth into accepting suicide missions without really understanding who they were killing or why.

Disillusioned with the group, Abu Abdullah tells the viewer that IS is unjust and has wronged civilians.

In an article on ICSVE’s website, Speckhard says most experts agree that the most successful counter-messaging campaigns against IS are the ones that utilise the voices of insiders.

“These are the voices of IS victims and IS cadres themselves who have first-hand knowledge of the group’s brutality, corruption, religious manipulation and deception.”

She also mentions two examples of former violent extremists, who now are involved in countering violent extremism efforts.

“Mubin Shaikh (now a counter-terrorism subject matter expert) is a good example of someone who nearly joined al-Qaeda and imbibed deeply of the jihadist ideology before turning away and infiltrating a Canadian terrorist cell to help take it down,” she says.

Full report at:



Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

8 December 2017

JAKARTA: Hundreds of protesters staged a rally in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Friday, demanding that US President Donald Trump reconsider his decision to declare America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Arab News that there were roughly 500 protesters in the rally.

Agus Sudarmaji, the director of the Al-Aqsa Working Group, based in Bogor, West Java, told Arab News that his group helped to coordinate the rally to show their support for Palestine.

Youth groups affiliated with Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), also attended.

“If the US doesn’t respond to our demands to withdraw its move, we will hold bigger rallies not just in Jakarta but also in other cities,” Asep Irfan Mujahid, head of the Association of NU Students, told Arab News.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told journalists on Friday that she met with the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Josep Donovan, on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Bali Democracy Forum.

“I have conveyed our official position as President Widodo instructed regarding US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Marsudi said.

In her opening speech at the forum, Marsudi declared, “Indonesia will always stand with Palestine.”

“I stand here, wearing the Palestinian scarf to show the strong commitment of Indonesia, of the people of Indonesia, to always stand with the Palestinian people for their rights,” Marsudi told delegates from 99 countries.

President Joko Widodo said in a statement that Indonesia strongly condemned the US’ unilateral move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and demanded it reconsider its decision. He also called on members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unite in sending a strong message to the US.

Reza Widyarsa, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Department, told Arab News that Indonesia could play a more active role as a mediator, in cooperation with a country that has diplomatic ties with, and a less confrontational stance toward, Israel.

NU Secretary-General Helmy Faishal Zaini said the NU urged the government to play a more proactive role in the crisis and “strongly condemns the unilateral recognition.”

“We also urge the OIC to mobilize its members to support Palestine’s independence,” Zaini added.

Yenny Wahid, director of the Wahid Foundation and daughter of the late President Abdurrahman Wahid, said the decision could trigger global instability, especially in Muslim-majority countries.

The head of the Indonesian Ulema Council Advisory Board and chairman of the Indonesia-Palestine Friendship Initiative, Din Syamsuddin, said in a statement that the American move “clearly puts a dead end on the long-standing peace process.”

“It could also spur radicalism among Muslims who react to the global injustice that the US has created,” Syamsuddin added.

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi film wins top prize for raising awareness against extremism

9 December 2017

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia won first prize for an awareness-raising film in countering extremism at the Conference of Police and Security Commanders, which opened in Tunis on Wednesday.

The Public Security Authority, an affiliate of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), won the prize in the films contest, in the field of countering extremism and terrorism.

The event was organized by the General Secretariat of the Arab Interior Ministers Council on the sidelines of 41st Conference of Police and Security Commanders in Tunis, SPA reported.

Mohammed bin Ali Koman, Secretary General of the Arab Interior Ministers Council, presented the award to Deputy Director of the Public Security General Gharmallah bin Mohammed Al-Zahrani, who leads the Saudi delegation to the conference.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Wednesday inaugurated the conference, which attracted representatives from regional and international organizations.

The conference discusses issues relating to security and police administration among the Arab states, in addition to countering extremism and terrorism.



Fire in Lebanon refugee settlement kills 7 Syrian children

Dec 8, 2017

The UN refugee agency says a fire in a Syrian refugee settlement in eastern Lebanon has killed seven children.

UNHCR said in a statement Friday that it "is deeply shocked by the fire" the day before in the village of Ghaze and extended its "sincere condolences to their families and to all those affected by this tragic incident."

Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian war refugees.

The UNHCR said it is coordinating with local authorities, adding that families who lost their homes and possessions in the fire have gathered at the local municipal hall. It said they have received food, water, blankets, winter clothing and other humanitarian assistance.



Bahrainis take to streets to condemn US Jerusalem al-Quds move

Dec 8, 2017

Hundreds of people have staged rallies across Bahrain in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian nation and to roundly condemn the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Tel Aviv regime.

Protesters took to the streets in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura on Friday evening, chanting slogans against the United States and demanding that the move be reversed.

They also trampled on US flags and posters bearing the picture of Trump.

Separately, people held a demonstration under the motto of “Al-Quds, the Capital of all Muslims” in Sehla village on the outskirts of the capital city Manama.

Similar protest demonstrations were staged in the villages of Karrana, Saar, Eker, Nuwaidrat, al-Musalla, Jidhafs, al-Daih, Barbar as well as the island of Sitra.

The protesters called for the immediate expulsion of US Ambassador to Bahrain Justin Siberell.

On Wednesday, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Full report at:



Iraq in new push against Daesh holdouts as Abadi eyes victory

9 December 2017

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces announced a new drive against holdout Daesh fighters in the western desert on Friday as Prime Minister Haider Abadi looks to proclaim victory over the terrorists.

Abadi has said he will not declare the insurgents have been defeated until they have been cleared from the dry valleys and other natural hideouts that have provided them with a desert refuge since they lost their last urban centers last month.

Troops and paramilitary Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi forces “launched a major drive to clear areas of Al-Jazeera region between Nineveh and Anbar (provinces) in the second phase of operations,” Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

In a first phase of operations launched on Nov. 23, government forces moving south from Nineveh and north from Anbar already linked up, clearing large parts of the desert between the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.

JOC spokesman Gen. Yahya Rassoul said on Nov. 27 that they had already cleared 50 percent of the total area of the desert of around 29,000 square km.

At the peak of its power in 2014, Daesh ruled some 7 million people in a territory as large as Italy, encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.

It is now confined to just a few small pockets, most of them in the desert.

Full report at:



Tens of Militants Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Syria

Dec 08, 2017

The sources said that a sum of 159 militants that handed over their weapons to the army men and signed the peace agreement with the government in Hasaka and its countryside received amnesty and returned to normal life within the framework of the nationwide reconciliation plan in Syria.  

Also, 114 gunmen that had surrendered to the army and applied for amnesty in the town of Qamishli received pardon from Damascus and returned to normal life on Tuesday.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria based in Humeimim reported on Sunday that militants in Arjoin in Homs province turned in to the army men and joined the peace agreement, adding, "The total number of regions, towns and villages that have thus far joined the nationwide reconciliation plan stands at 2,291."

Full report at:



Syrian Army Hits Terrorists' Movements in Aleppo Province

Dec 08, 2017

The artillery and missile units launched heavy shelling on the positions of Al-Nusra along a road connecting the regions of Ramleh and Rasm al-Siyaleh to each other Southwest of the town of Khanasser in Southeastern Aleppo as the army troops are trying hard to advance towards Southeastern Idlib from the flank.

Over 10 terrorists were killed and three military vehicles were destroyed in the army fire.

Relevant reports said in late November that the army men hit the positions of the Al-Nusra Front in Southeastern Aleppo, pushing the terrorists back from a village and a key height.

The army soldiers stormed Al-Nusra strongholds from several directions and managed to capture the village of Jubb Awaz and Tal (hill) al-Sheikh Mohammad in Southeastern Aleppo.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Lays Siege on Terrorists in Southeastern Deir Ezzur

Dec 08, 2017

The army men, operating from South of the town of al-Mayadeen towards the town of Albu Kamal and from North of Albu Kamal towards al-Mayadeen, managed to join the town flanks and captured the entire villages and towns on the Western bank of the Euphrates River that were previously under ISIL's control, the sources said, adding that with the recent advances the army soldiers managed to lay siege on ISIL trapped in a large desert region as large as 7,000 sq/km.

The sources further said that the army is now in control of the entire regions on the Southern bank of the Euphrates River from Eastern Raqqa to Deir Ezzur city and Albu Kamal.

Informed sources disclosed on Thursday that the ISIL terrorist group ushered in a new wave of arrests against its senior commanders in a bid to maintain its last military positions in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

The ISIL arrested several of its senior commanders, including Mohammad Hossein al-Deiri, nom du guerre Abu Seif al-Shaiti, and Abdulmajid al-Khalaf al-Qadir, nom du guerre Abu Omar al-Zubeidi, by raiding their residences, the local sources said.

The sources said that Abu Seif was one of the most senior ISIL commanders who paved the way for the terrorist group to dominate over Deir Ezzur, and played an important role in the massacre of al-Shaitat by the ISIL in summer 2014.

Full report at:



ISIL Suffers Heavy Defeat in Clashes with Syrian Army in Homs Province

Dec 08, 2017

The sources said that the army men battled toughly with ISIL after the terrorists who attacked their positions in Humeimeh region in Southeastern Homs, repelling the militants' heavy offensive.

Also, the army aircraft staged repeated air raids on ISIL's positions and movements in the battlefields in Humeimeh, al-Sukhnah Badiyeh (desert), Southeast of the town of al-Sukhnah and a region East of a road connecting Humeimeh to the T2 Oil Pumping Station, the sources reported.

A number of ISIL's members were killed or wounded and their positions and equipment were destroyed in the failed attacks.   

A military source said on Tuesday that the army's artillery units launched heavy shelling on terrorists' positions in Northern Homs after the terrorists breached ceasefire in de-escalation zone and targeted the positions of the pro-government forces for the third day in a row.

The source said that the terrorist groups' snipers and machineguns deployed in Northern and Northwestern Homs targeted the army positions in Jabourin region, South of the town of Talbiseh, close to the town of al-Qantou and in Hawsh Hajo region for the third day in a row, violating the ceasefire in de-escalation zone.

The source said that the army men engaged in fierce clashes with the violators of the truce.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorists in Hama Province

Dec 08, 2017

The army men fought heavily with Al-Nusra along a road connecting the villages of al-Rahjan and Um Mayal to each other and managed to seize control over several farms and hills close to al-Rahjan after killing a number of terrorists.

Also, the army men fended off the Al-Nusra attack on the positions of the pro-government forces in al-Shakousiyeh and al-Rahjan, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The Al-Nusra suffered heavy casualties and pulled the remaining pockets of its forces back from the battlefield in the failed attack.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army men engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Nusra terrorists after they attacked the army positions in the villages of al-Shakousiyeh and Um Mayal and fended of their attack.

A large number of Al-Nusra members were killed in the failed attack and their remaining pockets were forced to retreat from the battlefield.

Full report at:



Baghdad seeks funds to rebuild areas liberated from Daesh

9 December 2017

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government is seeking funds for the reconstruction of areas liberated from Daesh, Iraqi officials and lawmakers told Arab News on Wednesday.

Iraqi security forces, backed by the US-led coalition and Shiite-dominated paramilitary groups, have liberated more than 95 percent of areas formerly held by Daesh.

Iraqi Planning Minister Salman Jumaili, during a meeting with France’s trade minister in Baghdad on Wednesday, said Iraq needs $100 billion over 10 years from 2018 to rebuild affected areas.

The reconstruction plan is “aimed at achieving human, social and economic development, as well as the rehabilitation of infrastructure,” Jumaili said after the meeting.

“Iraq relies on the international community’s support to enable the government to implement its development programs, particularly with regard to reconstruction.”

In liberated areas, Baghdad seeks to maintain security, provide employment opportunities for youths, compensate citizens affected by terrorism or military operations, and build schools and hospitals, Iraqi officials told Arab News.

The EU on Wednesday offered a $71 million grant to finance reconstruction and mine clearance in Anbar, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala provinces, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, on Tuesday said his country is working to secure a $115-million international grant to Iraq to finance the reconstruction of liberated areas.

Iraq is working to hold a conference for international donors in February, officials said.

A major challenge facing the Iraqi government is the return of 2.9 million internally displaced people, tens of thousands of whom are living in tents on the outskirts of cities, while others are spread across provinces.

Iraqi lawmakers have complained that the Cabinet has not allocated enough funds in the 2018 budget to bring displaced people back to their homes.

Full report at:



Kurds rap Abadi for comparing them to Daesh

9 December 2017

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish area on Friday accused Prime Minister Haider Abadi of “hatred” of the Kurds after he compared their September independence referendum to acts by Daesh.

At a meeting of his Dawa party on Wednesday, Abadi said: “To have maintained Iraqi unity and prevented the crime of partition is a victory as great as that against Daesh.”

“Some people wanted to use the war against Daesh to divide the country and facilitate a separation, but thank God, the Iraqis through their conscience, the Kurds and Arabs as well as the peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) who fought Daesh refused to turn their guns on the Iraqi Army and federal forces,” Abadi said.

“They refused to obey orders ... to fight the Iraqi forces and patriotically obeyed their consciences,” he said.

On Friday, the Kurdish autonomous region’s peshmerga ministry said in a statement that it “regretted” Abadi’s comments.

“His declaration demonstrates the depth of his thinking and his hatred for the people of Kurdistan.

Full report at:



Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from Islamic State

Dec 09, 2017

Iraqi Christians celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Friday in the town of Qaraqosh that was previously occupied for three years by jihadists of the Islamic State group.

The bell tower of the church of the Immaculate Conception is still scarred by war, but its interior has been cleaned and signs of damage erased.

Some 300 faithful, mostly women and the elderly, attended Friday’s service.

Qaraqosh is some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Iraq’s second city Mosul, and before being taken by IS had some 50,000 residents.

However, only a small number returned after the town was retaken from the jihadists.

Bishop Nuel Tuma, 63, said the annual mass used to attract a far larger congregation.

“But today people are busy rebuilding their homes,” he said.

The first mass in the town following its liberation was held on October 30 last year.

“This is our first celebration of Holy Mary after three years when we were displaced,” said Hanaa Qasha, a 48-year-old teacher.

“We were able to hold mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception despite the damage caused by the evil ones.

“But we are people who love life,” she added.

Qaraqosh used to have the greatest concentration of Christians in the country.

Full report at:





China Warns Citizens in Pakistan of Possible Terror Attacks

December 08, 2017

Ayaz Gul


China has warned its citizens in Pakistan to keep a low profile, saying it has received intelligence reports of plans for imminent terror attacks.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad posted the unusual alert on its website as Beijing is investing more than $60 billion on massive infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan.

The investment under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, known as CPEC, is bringing a large number of Chinese nationals to the country working on the projects and undertaking private businesses. Pakistan and China call each other all-weather friends, and Islamabad has made the security of Chinese a high priority.

“It is understood that terrorists plan in the near term to launch a series of attacks against Chinese organizations and personnel in Pakistan,” the embassy statement said.

Precautions urged

It did not provide further details on the nature of terrorist threat but urged all Chinese nationals to enhance personnel security, limit outdoor trips as much as possible, and avoid crowded public places.

The statement asked Chinese nationals to cooperate with police and the military in Pakistan and alert the embassy in the event of an emergency. Pakistani officials have not yet commented on the Chinese terror warning.

Officials estimate about 20,000 Chinese are in Pakistan, where China and its companies are involved in 300 projects. More than 9,000 of them are working under CPEC, which has been declared the flagship project of Beijing’s “Road and Belt Initiative.”

Plans for CPEC were announced in April 2015 during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Pakistan.

Threat is serious

The Pakistan army has trained and deployed a special security force of more than 15,000 personnel to safeguard CPEC projects and Chinese nationals working on them. Many of the workers live in Chinese-only enclaves.

Pakistan’s leading defense and security expert, retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, said the country is on high alert in terms of security because of the ongoing demonstrations against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The U.S. has issued a security alert for Pakistan that temporarily restricts the movement of U.S. government employees in Pakistan.

Masood said Chinese security concerns are valid and Pakistan needs to take care of them.

“The threat is always there, because you know there are many people who are opposed to Pakistan, they are opposed to Pakistan-China cooperation, they are opposed to the China-Pakistan Corridor,” Masood told VOA Deewa. “They want to create hurdles, and this is one way of doing that.”

Assassination plot suspected

In October, the Chinese embassy, through an official, told the Pakistani Interior Ministry that a member of the anti-China terrorist network, East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), had snuck into the country with a mission to assassinate the Chinese ambassador. The letter also urged Pakistani authorities to beef up security of Chinese companies and nationals.

ETIM leaders and militants allegedly receive training and other support from militant sanctuaries in border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing has long pressed authorities in both the neighboring countries to crack down on the suspected ETIM fugitives.

The outlawed militant organization claims to be fighting for the rights of the Uighur Muslim minority in China in the western region of Xinjiang, and allegedly is behind the unrest there.

In June, Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing two kidnapped Chinese teachers in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied accusations that it harbors terror groups and has blamed extremists crossing over from Afghanistan and India for attacks in Pakistan.



Hafiz Saeed Launches Campaign in Pakistan Against US' Move To Recognise Jerusalem As Israel's Capital

Dec, 08 2017

Lahore: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on Friday made his first public appearance after he was freed from house arrest and led a rally in Lahore to launch a country-wide campaign against the United States President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million, was released from a 10-month-long house arrest on 24 November by the Pakistan government.

Saeed said the Defence Council Pakistan (DCP) will send its delegations to Muslim countries and convince them not to open their embassies in Jerusalem as he led the rally outside the JuD headquarters in Chauburji after the Friday prayers.

The banned JuD, believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed, is an active member of the DCP.

"Any Muslim country if opens its consulate in Jerusalem should be barred from opening their embassies in the Muslim countries," Saeed suggested.

File image of Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.APFile image of Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.AP

He said the Muslim countries should unite against the United States.

Saeed said the Pakistani government should immediately convene a session of joint parliament to discuss the Jerusalem announcement and make a strategy regarding it.

"Since Pakistan is a nuclear power it should lead the Muslim world. It should convene an Islamic summit and give a befitting response to the Trump administration," he said, adding that the world should also raise the issue of Kashmir along with Palestine. Saeed has called a meeting of the DCP to discuss the Jerusalem's capital announcement of Trump.

In a controversial announcement, Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday, reversing decades of the United States and international policy on the holy city.

A number of JuD workers participated in the rally, chanting anti-US and anti-India slogans.

"We will gather the people and launch an organised campaign against the United States on the issue," he said.

A Lahore High Court's Judicial Review Board unanimously ordered Saeed's release on 24 November after the government failed to provide any evidence related to terrorism or otherwise before it.

After his release, Saeed vowed to continue fighting for Kashmiris. He had alleged that the US, on India's request, was putting pressure Pakistan to detain him.

India had expressed outrage over Pakistan's decision to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Islamabad to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors.

Full report at:



US warns citizens against travelling to Pakistan

December 09, 2017

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday advised its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan, saying that foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a threat to them throughout the country.

The warning comes in the wake of increasing terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks, in Pakistan.

In a travel warning — issued after a gap of seven months — the State Department warned the US citizens against all non-essential travel to the South Asian country, reported Times of India.

The fresh travel warning replaces earlier warning, issued on May 22.

Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks, the State Department said, adding that targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organisation (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel were common in the country.

It said foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.

Sectarian violence, the State Department said, remains a serious threat throughout the country, and the Pakistani government continues to enforce blasphemy laws.

Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy, it added.

The State Department said insurgent and terrorist groups conducted numerous suicide bombings, hand grenade attacks, and ambushes on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past six months in Balochistan.

A suicide bomber in Quetta targeted senior police officers near Shuhada Chowk, killing 14 people and wounding 30. In Chaman, another suicide bomber attacked a police convoy, killing three police officials and injuring 20 others, it said while giving details of terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan and FATA.

Two hand grenade attacks in Gwadar and Mastung injured 41 people. In Quetta, a suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 45 in an attack on the Pishin bus terminal, the State Department said.

Similarly, a suicide bomber in Jhal Magsi attacked worshippers at the Sufi shrine of Pir Rakhyal Shah in the Fatehpur area, killing 19 and injuring 30. Another suicide bomber in Quetta attacked a police convoy on the Sibbi Road in the Saryab mill area, killing seven and wounding 23, it said.

In Punjab, three suicide bombings targeting police and military officials in Lahore killed at least 47 and injured more than 100 others.

Full report at:



UAE hands over MQM’s ex-leader Hammad Siddiqui to Pakistan

Monitoring Desk

December 09, 2017

KARACHI: Former Mutt­ahida Qaumi Movement leader Hammad Siddiqui, who was arrested in Dubai around two months ago, was handed over to Pakistan by UAE authorities, a private news channel claimed on Friday.

Quoting unnamed sources, Geo News said that the “deportation” of Mr Siddiqui, a key suspect in the 2012 Baldia factory fire in which over 250 labourers were killed, was conducted not through standard operating procedures, but by mutual intelligence coordination between Pakistan and the UAE.

It said that Interpol handed over Mr Siddiqui to a “Pakistani intelligence agency last night” and he was moved to Islamabad. However, Pakistani diplomatic officials in the UAE maintained silence on the development, it added.

Hammad Siddiqui is a key suspect in Baldia factory fire case

Mr Siddiqui was a former in-charge of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee. He was expelled from the party in May 2013 by MQM founder Altaf Hussain and after that he immediately left the country.

Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal has been defending Mr Siddiqui since he returned to Karachi on March 3, 2016. He and his party leaders openly told media several times that Mr Siddiqui was not involved in the Baldia factory fire.

Only on Thursday, Mr Kamal told media that the Baldia factory fire was not an act of terrorism, but an accident which was caused by alleged negligence of owners of the ill-fated industrial unit.

He questioned as to why the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his two sons, were living in Canada and the United Kingdom and not appearing before the Anti-Terrorism Court conducting the Baldia factory fire trial.

Full report at:



South Asia


'Enforced disappearance' suspected in Bangladesh

by Faisal Mahmud

December 09, 2017

Dhaka, Bangladesh - A former Bangladeshi diplomat has been missing since December 4, leaving tell-tale signs of what observers here call an "enforced disappearance".

That day, Maroof Zaman, a former Bangladeshi ambassador to Qatar and Vietnam, drove to Dhaka airport to pick up his daughter, but he never arrived.

The next morning, his car was found abandoned in Khilkhet, about 3.7km away from the airport.

Tha SIM card in Zaman's mobile phone was last active about 3.8km away from there, according to the police.

Zaman's apparent "disappearance" comes on the heels of some similar prominent incidents in the last four months, including that of Mubashar Hasan, a North South University (NSU) teacher who has been missing since November 7.

In both cases, no ransom demands have been made to family members.

Academic Hasan sometimes wrote articles on militancy and political Islam in Bangladesh.

Maroof occasionally shared posts critical of the Awami League-led government of Sheikh Hasina on social media.

Zaman was appointed ambassador under the rule of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the other major political party in Bangladesh, and an army-backed caretaker government, and was thought to be "anti-Awami League" minded.

The 61-year old widower, however, was not involved in political activity and spent most of his time at home.

Enforced disappearance?

Samiha Zaman, the younger of Maroof Zaman's two daughters and the person he was supposed to pick up on the night he disappeared, told Al Jazeera that upon reaching home, she found her father's room in disarray and their two housemaids distressed.

Zaman, who had left home at about 6:20 pm, called his home at about 7:45pm and told her in a subdued voice that "people will come, give them the laptop and the computer", Laki, one of the housemaids, told Al Jazeera.

The number displayed on the Caller ID was "000123456". Al Jazeera later confirmed that the number does not belong to any operators - mobile or landline - in Bangladesh.

An official from a telecom operator said this number was probably "masked" after being run through a device that changes the number.

At about 8:05pm, three men arrived at the house, taking possession of Zaman's laptop, spare smartphone, camera, and the home desktop computer.

They also systematically opened and searched all the drawers in Zaman's room.

CCTV footage of the apartment showed these men to be dressed in black shirts and jeans, wearing caps which obscured their faces, making identification impossible.

Samiha told Al Jazeera that after waiting the whole night, she went to file a general claim "for a missing person" at Dhaka's Dhanmondi police station on the following day.

"We tracked [Zaman's] mobile phone. It was last active in Dakkhinkhan. We are trying to figure out what happened on Monday," Mohammad Abdul Latif, the officer-in-charge (OC) of the police station, told Al Jazeera.

Asked about the appearances of three men in Zaman's apartment on the night of the phone call, Abdul Latif said that such an "incident is not mentioned in the general diary [police report], so we are not aware of it".

Samiha said she had not mentioned it in the police report on the advice of one of her relatives.

Disappeared individuals

Shabnam Zaman, ambassador Zaman's elder daughter, told Al Jazeera that the circumstances seem to be in line with previous cases of disappeared individuals in Bangladesh, and point to detention by state agencies.

"Other information we have appears to support this view. However, I do not know why he was abducted, given that he retired years ago - unless he was targeted because of any views and opinions he may have held," she said.

A Dhaka based political analyst who asked to have his name withheld told Al Jazeera that Zaman's case is the latest entry in a lengthening list of apparent "enforced disappearances" in recent months.

According to Dhaka Tribune, 14 people have disappeared in different parts of the capital in the past four months without a single ransom claim being made.

In some cases, the kidnappers have shown an interest in the belongings of the people who went missing.

The disappearances are different this time around in that the victims are mostly from middle-class, educated families and not members of any political parties.

They also are not victims of "abduction for money", as no ransom was demanded from the families. "[I]t's hard to connect the dots, but at this point, it seems they were abducted because of their personal political viewpoints," the analyst said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in July alleging that the Bangladesh government had secretly detained hundreds of people, mostly activists and political figures opposed to Sheikh Hasina's government.

HRW said at least 90 people had been detained in secret jails last year.

Most eventually came before a court, but it documented 21 cases of detainees who were killed and nine others whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Pointing fingers

According to the Bangladeshi rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), as many as 519 people have allegedly fallen victim to enforced disappearances between 2010 and July 2017 in Bangladesh and an astonishing 329 of them were still missing.

Many family members of such disappearance victims have repeatedly blamed law-enforcement agencies, according to ASK. Many of those who went missing later returned to their families.

In some cases, the bodies of the disappeared have been found.

Others were found arrested under different charges by law-enforcement agencies. ASK estimates the number of people in this category during the last seven and half years to be 190.

As of Thursday, the police were still searching for Zaman, according to Abdul Latif, Dhanmondi police station OC.



Taliban’s major treatment facility busted in Wardak province

Dec 08 2017

A major training facility used by the Taliban insurgents has been busted by the Afghan security forces during an operation in central Maidan Wardak province that resulted into the killing of several insurgents.

The Maidan Wardak police officials said the treatment facility was discovered an operation in Syedabad district on Thursday.

The officials further added that the facility was used for the treatment of the Taliban insurgents from different provinces including Paktia, Ghazni, and other restive parts of the country.

According to the officials, several Taliban insurgents including some of their commanders were killed during the operation and some weapons and ammunition were also seized.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Maidan Wardak is among the relatively volatile provinces in central parts of the country, located close to capital Kabul.

The anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities, mainly in the districts lying along the highway connecting Kabul with the southeastern and southern provinces.

Full report at:



1.5K Rohingya Refugees Arrive In Bangladesh Per Week, Return Unsafe

December 8, 2017

The U.N. says close to 1,500 Rohingya refugees are arriving in Bangladesh each week.

At a press conference Thursday, officials from the United Nations Human Rights Commission stressed that returning refugees to Myanmar is not safe or sustainable.

They added many refugees do not have anywhere to return to following the destruction of homes and villages.

100 days after Rohingyas began arriving the situation still remains the fastest moving refugee crisis in the world.

“The conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are not in place to enable safe and sustainable returns because as I noted at the very top of this press conference, refugees continue to arrive in this country,” announced Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for the U.N.H.C.R. “Most have little or nothing to go back to…their homes and villages have been destroyed…there are deep divisions between communities that remain unaddressed and humanitarian access is inadequate.”

So far, 625,000 refugees have arrived in Myanmar posing a challenge for aid groups looking to feed and shelter them.

Full report at:



Hefazat threatens to lay siege to US embassy on December 13

December 08, 2017

Hefazat also organized a brief rally following the Jumma prayers on Friday, protesting USA’s decision to back Israel on the issue

Radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam has threatened to lay siege to the US Embassy in Dhaka, protesting against Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Hefazat’s Dhaka Metropolitan unit President Noor Hossain Qasimi announced on Friday that the siege would take place on December 13.

Also Read- Hefazat decries Jerusalem’s recognition as Israeli capital

Hefazat also organized a brief rally following the Jumma prayers, protesting US decision to back Israel on the issue.

Full report at:



Pak envoy rejects Afghan-US claims terror sanctuaries in Pakistan

Dec 09 2017

Pakistan’s Ambassador in United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has rejected the Afghan and US officials claims regarding the presence of the terror sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Speaking to VOA’s Urdu service during an interview, Chaudhry said there is no organized presence of the ISIS or any other terrorist group in Pakistan as he rejected the previous remarks by the Afghan officials that the loyalists of the terror group comes from Pakistan.

Chaudhry also rejected the remarks by President Donald Trump regarding the presence of the terror group and said Pakistan has done alot against the terror groups in the past three years.

“In the last three years, we have done a lot, not for the sake of any other country, but for our own people,” Chaudhry said. “We have defeated the forces of terrorism. The terrorists are on the run. There is no safe haven in Pakistan. The safe havens have moved into Afghanistan. That is where the focus of action should be.”

According to Chaudhry, the terror sanctuaries operate in the ungoverned areas of Afghanistan and said the border between the two countries should be fully secured to prevent the cross-border terrorism.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for its failure to act against the terror network although they have said that the country has take strict actions against the terror groups posing threat to the Pakistani government.

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) earlier had warned that the United States will take necessary steps if Pakistan fails to destroy terror safe havens in its soil.

In response to a question during a forum in California, Mike Pameo said the defense secretary James Mattis was travelling to Pakistan to “make clear the president’s intent” and “will deliver the message that we would love you to do that.

Full report at:



Taliban suffer $4m financial loss as F-18s bomb drug labs in Helmand

Dec 08 2017

The US forces based in Afghanistan in coordination with the Afghan security forces carried out more airstrikes on Taliban drugs production facilities in Helmand province, incurring a financial loss of up to $4 million.

“Carrier-based U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets conduct a strike on multiple Taliban narcotics production facilities in Helmand province on December 7, 2017, as part of an ongoing campaign by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to cut off the Taliban’s economic lifelines and degrade their ability to continue operations,” the US Forces Afghanistan said in a statement.

The statement further added that the strike was one of several, conducted overnight, that contributed to the destruction of nearly $4 million in direct Taliban revenues.

A video purportedly showing the bombing of one of the facility was also published online by the US forces.

This comes as the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and the US forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said last month that the attacks on Taliban financial engine will continue as heavy losses have been inflicted on the group and its associated in recent raids.

 “In just over three days’ worth of operations, the Afghan 215th Corps, their special forces commandos, their air force, in close cooperation with U.S. forces, removed between $7 million and $10 million of revenue from the Taliban’s pocketbook,” Gen. Nicholson said.

Full report at:



UN Warns Against Any Hasty Returns of Rohingya to Myanmar

December 09, 2017

Geneva. Peace and stability must be restored in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state before any Rohingyas can return from Bangladesh, under international standards on voluntary repatriation, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday (08/12).

Some 20,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in November, and at least 270 so far in December, bringing the total since violence erupted on August 25 to 646,000, according to the UNHCR and International Organization of Migration (IOM).

The two countries have signed an agreement on voluntary repatriation which refers to establishing a joint working group within three weeks of the Nov. 23 signing. UNHCR is not party to the pact or involved in the bilateral discussions for now.

"It is critical that the returns are not rushed or premature," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a briefing. "People can't be moving back in into conditions in Rakhine state that simply aren't sustainable."

Htin Lynn, Myanmar's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said on Tuesday that his government hoped returns would begin within two months. He was addressing the Human Rights Council, where the top UN rights official said that Myanmar's security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority .

The UNHCR has not been formally invited to join the working group, although its Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements is holding talks in Bangladesh, Edwards said, adding that discussions were "still at a very preliminary stage".

He could not say whether UNHCR was in talks with Myanmar authorities on its role, but hoped the agency would be part of the joint working group.

Edwards, asked whether the two-month time was premature, said: "The return timeline of course is something that we are going to have to look closely at ... We don't want to see returns happening either involuntarily or precipitiously and before conditions are ready."

In all, Bangladesh is hosting a total of more than 858,000 Rohingya, including previous waves, IOM figures show.

"We have had ... a cycle of displacement from Rakhine state over many decades, of people being marginalized, of violence, of people fleeing and then people returning," Edwards said.

"Now this cycle has to be broken, which means that we have to find a way to ensure that there is a lasting solution for these people."

WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said that it had distributed food to 32,000 people in northern Rakhine in November.

Full report at:





UK criticizes Muslim Brotherhood, defends Western policy

DECEMBER 7, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) - British foreign secretary Boris Johnson singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its associates for criticism on Thursday in a speech calling for a renewed western diplomatic push in the Middle East to tackle Islamic extremism.

Speaking to diplomats and experts at the Foreign Office in London, Johnson called for better engagement with Muslim populations worldwide and argued that blaming Western intervention for the rise of Islamist extremism played into the jihadi narrative.

He said the West needed to collectively re-insert itself in the process towards peace in Syria and called for the United States to bring fresh impetus to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Johnson said the Muslim Brotherhood - a global Islamist organization which started in Egypt in 1928 - was one of the most politically savvy operators in the Muslim world, but he also criticized its conduct in the Middle East and Britain.

“It is plainly wrong that Islamists should exploit freedoms here in the UK - freedoms of speech and association - that their associates would repress overseas and it is all too clear that some affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood are willing to turn a blind eye to terrorism,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was designated as a terrorist organization in that country in 2013.

A 2015 British government review into the organization concluded that membership of or links to it should be considered a possible indicator of extremism but stopped short of recommending that it should be banned.


Johnson admitted there had been policy missteps in Iraq and Syria interventions, but said that did not justify a diplomatic retreat from the region.

“British foreign policy is not the problem, it is part of the solution,” he said, calling for a renewed role in Syria, more work to halt conflict in Yemen and progress in bringing factions together in Libya.

“We need more engagement, not less,” he said.

His remarks come a day after the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, drawing international criticism.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that decision was wrong, and Johnson repeated the government criticism that the U.S. move was premature.

“We ... think that the future of Jerusalem must be settled as part of the negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and as part of the two-state solution,” he said.

“This decision, having been announced by President Trump, the world would like to see some serious announcements by the U.S. about how they see the Middle East peace process and how to bring the two sides together.”



Muslim Dutch politicians blast US' Jerusalem move

08 December 2017

The U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is dangerous “insolence” meant to legitimize the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, according to Muslim Dutch politicians.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Tunahan Kuzu, the co-founder and head of Netherland's DENK party -- established in 2015 by Turkish-Dutch lawmakers -- warned that U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial decision will cause a huge crisis.

"Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital means legitimating Israel's years-long illegitimate occupation," he said.

He added: "We were used to Trump's nonsense, but this is more than that, it’s disrespect and insolence."

Kuzu said the U.S. decision served to reward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has presided over unprecedented Israeli settlements being built in occupied Palestinian land.

"Netanyahu is being rewarded instead of punished for his increasingly invasive policies of recent years," Kuzu stressed.

He said that U.S. should reverse the decision.

"This decision and other similar decisions show that we should immediately recognize the Palestinian state," Kuzu said.

Full report at:



Briton jailed for 10 years for joining Islamic State

8 December 2017

A Libyan-British national with close links to the Manchester Arena bomber has been jailed for 10 years for being a member of Islamic State.

Mohammed Abdallah, 26, travelled to Syria with the help of his younger brother, Abdalraouf, who was convicted last year of assisting others in committing acts of terrorism.

Abdallah was outed as an Isis fighter in 2016 when a defector from the terror group passed files to Sky News that listed him as a specialist sniper with expertise with the “Dushka”, a Russian heavy machine gun.

On Thursday, Abdallah, from Moss Side in Manchester, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of possessing an AK47 gun, receiving £2,000 for terrorism and membership of Isis.

The trial heard how he had travelled to Syria in 2014 with Nezar Khalifa, 28, also from Manchester, to meet two others from the city: the former RAF serviceman Stephen Gray, 34, and Raymond Matimba, 28. Abdallah was arrested by counter-terrorism police when he returned to the UK in September 2016.

His trial had been delayed in the wake of the attack on the Manchester Arena for fear that a jury would be prejudiced by reports of his links with the bomber Salman Abedi, who attended the same mosque as the brothers.

Sentencing Abdallah on Friday, Mrs Justice McGowan said she accepted that he had acted under the influence of his brother “to some extent”.

“There is no evidence of possession of extremist propaganda material. The evidence of your mindset is to be found in your actions,” she said. “Your commitment to violence abroad is clear and you have not shown any sign of changing your views or attitudes.”

The court heard that Abdallah had a below-average IQ of 68 and had a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer while drunk or high in 2013.

The brothers, who had moved to Manchester from Libya as children, had joined the Tripoli Brigade fighting against the Gaddafi regime in 2011. Abdalraouf was shot in battle and paralysed from the waist down.

In 2016, Abdalraouf, now 24, was found guilty of assisting others in committing acts of terrorism and of terror funding, and jailed for five and a half years.

Greater Manchester police has refused to confirm a connection between Abedi and the Abdallah brothers, who were all born to Libyan parents, but the suicide bomber is reported to have visited Abdalraouf in HMP Altcourse, Liverpool, in the months leading up to the attack.

Giving evidence during his trial, Abdallah denied swearing allegiance to Isis, saying he went to Syria only to help deliver $5,000 (£3,740) to the poor and someone else must have filled out the form without his knowledge.

Full report at:



Macron, Tillerson meet in Paris to support Lebanese PM Hariri

8 December 2017

Lebanon’s prime minister appealed for support for his country from world powers on Friday at a summit convened by France to bolster Lebanon’s institutions as it emerges from a bizarre political crisis with regional and international implications.

Just before the gathering got underway, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed America’s backing for Lebanon’s “sovereignty, stability and independence,” while French President Emmanuel Macron called on Mideast countries to refrain from interfering in Lebanese domestic affairs.

Lebanese leaders say their country has earned the support on account of the burden of hosting Syrian refugees - 1 million of them, according to the United Nations, or close to a quarter of Lebanon’s own population.

“The stability of Lebanon necessarily depends on its capacity to cope with the economic and social challenges stemming essentially from the Syria crisis,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in opening remarks at the summit in Paris.

He called for investment in Lebanon, support for its security services, and a resolution to the refugee question that has dominated domestic politics since 2012.

First of its kind summit

It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon’s future since a crisis erupted following Hariri’s shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia which he later rescinded.

While the crisis was unfolding, French President Emmanuel Macron led diplomatic efforts to restore Hariri to his post and convince him to stay on as prime minister. The United States expressed support, recognizing Hariri as one of its chief partners in the Middle East.

In Paris, Hariri said he was “personally grateful” to the French president. Hariri said Lebanon was able to weather its crisis thanks to its international partners and that the country’s many parties affirmed their “commitment to dissociation from regional conflicts.”

Macron said the international community would have to “stay mobilized” for Lebanon’s peaceful future.

Full report at:



Islamic Org Claims Europeans Need Millions of Muslim Migrants to Pay Their Pensions

8 Dec 2017

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — an intergovernmental body consisting of 57 states — has declared Europeans need Muslim mass migration to pay their pensions.

As well as describing “rising” migration from the Muslim world as a “win-win boon”, the organisation’s information and communications director Maha Akeel said that Europe is obliged to “rejuvenate itself” through opening its doors to the world’s poor, because the continent is named after “a Syrian mother”.

Writing in Euractiv, Akeel — whose organisation declares itself to be “the collective voice of the Muslim world” — proclaims opposition to mass migration from outside the continent to be “thoroughly foreign to Europe”.

She adds: “Immigration into and within Europe is older than the name Europe itself. In Greek mythology, the woman after whom the continent was named, Europa, was originally from Phoenicia, an ancient civilisation encompassing what is now modern-day Syria and Lebanon,” she said.

“The continent named after a Syrian mother can rejuvenate itself by accepting her descendants (and others) who are hungry for safety, security, and prosperity.”

Akeel goes on to accuse right-wing parties of “lying to their own populations” when they warn against mass migration from the third world, claiming “study after study across a range of countries” show the phenomenon to be a roaring success.

“Europe’s success in the latter half of the 20th century was made possible by immigrants, and the 21st century will be no different,” she argues, claiming that mass migration is “the only possible way” to “sustain [Europe’s] ageing native population”.

Highlighting democratic projections which show the continent ageing — a phenomena she says will lead to a “colossal drop in GDP” — Akeel writes that “the far-right’s ambition to erect a ‘Fortress Europe’ that shuts out migrants would doom continental economies to slow growth, stagnation, low productivity and low employment for decades to come”.

“Migrants could be a key asset in supporting the UK’s ageing population,” she said, citing International Longevity Centre claims about migration.

“Far from being a drain on the welfare state, between 2001 and 2011 migrants from the European Economic Area paid £22.1 billion more in taxes than they took from the British government.”

However, research indicates that when immigration from outside the EEA between 1995 and 2011 is taken into account as well, migrants are in fact a net drain to Britain — on the order of between £115 and £160 billion.

Akeel’s vision of mass migration as a “win-win boon” for Europe stands in stark contrast to an analysis of migrants’ potential to contribute by University College London psychology professor Dr. James Thompson in 2015.

Citing research on the educational attainment of first and second generation migrants compared to natives of a receiving country, Thompson slammed EU leaders for using the contributions of Jews in Europe as “appropriate exemplars of migrant competence and achievements”, when talking about the current influx of migrants from the world’s poorest countries.

“The analysis of scholastic attainments in first and second generation immigrants shows that the Gulf has gained from immigrants and Europe has lost,” he writes, explaining that “this is because those emigrating to the Gulf have higher abilities than the locals, those emigrating to Europe have lower ability than the locals”.

This is damaging for European societies, according to Thompson, because “lower ability leads to lower status, lower wages, and higher resentment at perceived differences”.

Full report at:





Africans enjoy Turkey's religious freedom

December 08, 2017

Africans living in Turkey have described the freedoms they enjoy to practice their religion and live without discrimination.

Both Christian and Muslim Africans have found a welcome in Turkish cities, although the largest group have settled in Istanbul.

As well as mosques and some functioning churches, others prefer to practice their religion in private homes or workplaces.

Cameroonian footballer Carlos Kameni, who plays in goal for Istanbul’s Fenerbahce, said he felt free to practice his Christian faith in Turkey.

“I live in Turkey, I play football in Turkey, I have never been a victim of discrimination in my private life or my beliefs,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“I am very happy to live in Turkey.”

Most African Christians in Istanbul live in the Mecidiyekoy and Aksaray districts on the city’s European side. Many are able to meet in churches across the city, where they foster a sense of community.

Modou Nar Toire, a Senegalese living in Istanbul, belongs to the Mouride order founded by Sheikh Amadou Bamba, a Sufi Muslim, in the 19th century.

He said Bamba’s followers would come together every Aug. 10 to mark his arrest by French colonial authorities in 1895 with 12 hours of prayer.

Mourides were able to practice their rites and ceremonies without disruption, Toire said.

“People come from many parts of the world and they settle here,” Chris Gomes, a Gambian who lives in Istanbul, said. “Our only problem is not knowing Turkish.”

“I have many Muslim friends as well as Turkish friends. Turkey is a very comfortable and free country in this sense.”

Up to 1.5 million Africans live in Turkey, according to official figures, with around a quarter in Istanbul.



Libya pushing to be removed from travel ban list

9 December 2017

TRIPOLI: Libya’s internationally recognized government has appealed to the US to drop or ease a travel ban imposed on its citizens by US President Donald Trump, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Libyan Foreign Ministry, through its embassy in Washington, has begun to take measures to lift Libya from the list of countries and to ease the restrictions on Libyan citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.

Libya is one of six Muslim-majority countries subject to the travel ban. This week the US Supreme Court allowed the ban to take full effect while litigation over its ultimate validity continues.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Veiling Is Compulsory in Islam, Debate Unacceptable - Al-Azhar


Egypt's Al-Azhar, asserted in a fatwa, or religious decree, that it is compulsory for women in Islam to wear the veil, while those who deny this are "extremist" and "abnormal".

In a statement released by The International Electronic Center for Fatwas of Al-Azhar, the institution said the veil, or hijab, is an obligatory duty imposed by the teachings of Islam, and any debate on the topic is unacceptable.

"It is not acceptable that anyone from the public or non-specialized people, regardless of their culture, to voice their opinions on the matter. The hijab [... ] aims to preserve [women's] feminine nature," the statement read.

It went on to say that the fact that the veil is compulsory in Islam helps women to become successful and productive in society while preventing them from just being seen as a body.

It added adding that in different countries around the world such as India, China and Japan women wear clothes similar to Islam's veil as they are keen to follow the nature's of their nations.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Offa Monarch Urges Nasfat to Complete Aseese Islamic Centre


The leadership of Nasrul Lahi l Fatih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) has been urged to urgently develop its landed property at Aseese along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Olofa of Offa, Oba Miftaudeen Gbadamosi (Esuwoye II) made this appeal during a courtesy visit by the President of NASFAT, Kamil Bolarinwa to his palace in Kwara State.

The monarch observed a weak presence of Islamic organisations along that axis, hence he charged NASFAT to live up to its vision as a pace setting Muslim society.

Bolarinwa paid the courtesy visit as part of his itinerary of a four-day working visit to the Kwara zone of the society.

The NASFAT president had earlier paid similar courtesy visits to Elerin of Erin Ile, Oba Abdulganiyu Ajibola (Olusokun II); Onijagbo, Oba Salaudeen Fagbemi; Oba of Ajase Ipo; and Olomupo all in the same axis.

The NASFAT President's tour of Kwara Zone commenced in Ilorin with an interactive session with the stakeholders of the society. The meeting afforded Bolarinwa a first hand information about the issues of development and management in the Kwara zone.

In his keynote address during the interactive session, which took place at the Ilorin main branch of NASFAT, Bolarinwa expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the zone for the various impactful projects accomplished by the zone.

He also promised to address all the issues raised at the forum with dispatch.

The President seized the opportunity of the tour to visit other branches including Tanke branch.

The inauguration of the new branch of the society in Ijagbo as well as swearing in ceremony of officials that will pilot the affairs of the Ijagbo branch drew curtains on the four-day visit. The new officials were charged to fear Allah in the discharge of their duties.

The chairman of the event, Abdullateef Fagbemi advised the new executive to strive to further promote Islam through their activities in NASFAT.

Full report at:



North America


Trump’s Travel Ban Takes Effect as Muslim Americans Face Increased Attacks

Dec 8, 2017

Bilal Askaryar grew up like many kids in the United States. He played in a soccer league, was class president in high school, and celebrated July 4 at Lake Tahoe with fireworks and a family barbecue.

Askaryar, 32, is Muslim. His parents fled Afghanistan in 1990 as the country spiraled into civil war. Askaryar was 5.

“We didn’t know where we were going. We weren’t looking for a ‘better life,’ we were just looking for life,” he wrote in a first-person account for NPR.

They were granted asylum and became United States citizens in 2000. Askaryar said he identifies as an American Muslim, which may be why he said he was the only one to be arrested and charged in February while protesting Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit to a Washington, D.C., middle school.

“The first question the police officer asked me was, ‘Where were you born?’” he told Rewire. “I have no idea why that was relevant.”

Askaryar pleaded not guilty to the trumped up charges of misdemeanor assault and failing to obey an officer. He maintains that he neither provoked nor disobeyed, that there were far more disruptive people there, unless his right to protest as a U.S. citizen constitutes a crime.

“I stand by my act of civil disobedience but it was a wake-up call for me and I got a small glimpse into the systematic discrimination that minorities, especially Black people, face,” he said.

Muslims are among the groups President Donald Trump has repeatedly singled out and targeted. He ran on a campaign promise to ban them and last week shared controversial anti-Muslim videos on social media. The U.S. Supreme Court this week handed his administration the power to execute his campaign promise, by allowing a travel ban affecting some Muslim-majority countries to take effect while legal appeals proceed.

This makes Muslim Americans more vulnerable to discrimination in the Trump era. Despite the rights of equality and free speech guaranteed by the Constitution, some like Askaryar see their own existence as threatened.

Askaryar, who has a master’s degree in international development and works in D.C., looks back at being arrested at the protest against DeVos as “a spurious attempt by Metropolitan Police” to stifle his freedom of expression and to crack down on protesters.

The case was dismissed with prejudice (meaning that it was closed permanently and cannot be brought back to court) on November 30, he said. But the experience has left him deeply conscious that even though he thinks of himself as an American, many in the current climate do not.

“I choose to believe in the American ideals of freedom and equality for all, but it is becoming increasingly clear that if you are a Black or brown person speaking your mind and engaging in civil disobedience, white people have their case protected and minorities don’t,” he said.

He said there were several people being disruptive at the DeVos protest, including a white woman who had to be removed from the hood of a car, but he was the only one arrested.

Askaryar said he did nothing to provoke, other than peacefully protest. When a white police officer shoved his Black Lives Matter sign and locked eyes with him, Askaryar realized “he could charge me and take away my freedoms in an instant because of his animus.”

The disproportionate criminalization of marginalized groups, particularly Black people, is well documented in the United States. African Americans, for example, are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white people, according to the NAACP. Askaryar said he believes he was pulled out because the white police officer was biased against Muslims and immigrants. He may not be wrong. Muslims have been particularly targeted since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, facing increased state scrutiny and controversial policies, being treated like criminals, and living in a climate of fear.

As a junior in high school during the attacks, Askaryar recalls writing a letter to the local newspaper asking the larger community to resist the temptation to associate all Muslim-Americans with “the actions of 11 madmen.”

“Islamophobia is not new. Orientalist attitudes have long portrayed Muslims as some unique religious other. It’s always been a part of this country in its darkest times,” he said.

Where former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about diversity making the nation stronger, Trump has chosen to vilify all Muslims as terrorists and spread fear about them, as the Atlantic reported.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to temporarily implement the revised travel ban on eight countries, which will effectively ban millions of people in Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela from entering the United States.

The ban allows waivers, must be reviewed every 180 days, and is “not one-size-fits-all,” according to a Trump administration lawyer. A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against it Friday.

“It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.

Askaryar said he sees this as a continued effort to discriminate against and bar Muslims from coming to the United States and as a nod to the xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment prevalent among swaths of the country’s population.

“When Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, he swore an oath to protect the Constitution—the First Amendment of which unequivocally states that there shall be no establishment of a state religion in our country,” he said. “By calling for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’ and then enacting that ban, sharing anti-Muslim hate speech via Twitter, and spreading lies about Muslim American communities, he is not only being unpresidential, he is violating the Constitution.”

While he failed to denounce white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, or the white gunmen after the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Las Vegas, Trump has often made broad statements labeling all Muslims terrorists after a single terror attack by a fanatic, such as the events in Paris and London. With orders like the Muslim ban, he has made it a point to go after Muslims simply for being Muslim, as Slate reported.

Reports indicate that Islamophobia and hate crimes toward Muslims have spiked in the Trump era. A Pew Research Center analysis from November shows that assaults against Muslims in the United States “rose significantly” between 2015 and 2016, surpassing the peak reached in 2001, after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11.

A Pew survey earlier in 2017 found that 75 percent of Muslim-American adults polled reported “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in the United States; 50 percent felt it has become more difficult to be a Muslim here in recent years and 48 percent say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months. Nearly a quarter think racism and discrimination is the biggest problem facing American Muslims today. Most of them feel Trump is unfriendly toward them. But a large majority say they are proud to be American and continue to believe in the American dream, the survey noted.

Hate crime data from the FBI shows a significant increase in incidents in 2016, with 21 percent of them being motivated by religious bias.

“There is no question that the degree and volume of hatred has increased under a man who promised to prevent Muslims and refugees from coming here and has followed up,” Askaryar said. “The fear mongering is so high that people’s lives and safety are at stake.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups nationwide, has documented a sharp increase in anti-Muslim hate groups.

Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, recently condemned Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets and executive orders as “harmful” and “dangerous.” She pointed out that anti-Muslim hate groups have nearly tripled and hate crimes against Muslims have doubled since Trump’s campaign.

She told Rewire that this administration is fanning the flames of Islamophobia in the United States with its rhetoric and policies.

“Now that the Muslim ban has gone through, it’s probably going to lead to more of unfortunately what we’ve seen so much of, which is anti-Muslim bias and the targeting of Muslims as somehow particularly prone to terror,” she said. “Once again, it’s the government and Trump acting as though the Muslim community as a whole is responsible for the bad acts of a few. It’s just more Islamophobia in our society and it’s very, very unfortunate.”

Recent incidents indicate that one is more likely to be killed in a mass shooting by a white man in the United States than by a Muslim immigrant. In fact, in the eight months since Trump took office, more Americans have been killed by white American men with no connection to Islam than by Muslim terrorists or foreigners, Vox reported.

Equal rights advocates continue to challenge the president’s travel ban. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has organized rallies in protest and Muslim Advocates and the MacArthur Justice Center filed an amicus brief in Washington state against the ban on Wednesday.

Recently visiting the Islamic Center of Fremont, Askaryar said he was disheartened to find intense security measures in place, from doors having to be shut at all times to security guards manning the prayer spaces.

Aware that his American accent, clothing, and lighter skin color often shields him from much of the bias other immigrants and people of color face, Askaryar said he will continue to fight for equal rights for all and that, “as someone who also identifies as a Muslim, it’s not an easy road ahead.”



Muslims pray outside White House to protest Trump Jerusalem move

Dec 09, 2017

Hundreds of Muslims attended Friday prayers in front of the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Responding to the call of American Muslim organizations, worshippers laid out their prayer mats at a park in front of the president’s residence.

Wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves or the colors of the Palestinian flag, protesters also held placards denouncing Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On Wednesday, Trump declared that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- turning his back on decades of American and international diplomacy.

“Trump does not own a piece of soil of Jerusalem and Palestine. He owns the Trump Tower. He can give it away to the Israelis,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told AFP.

The president is “empowering Christian religious extremism in the US,” he added.

Speaking alongside other prominent figures from the American Muslim community during the protest, Awad called upon Trump to “put the American interests first, not those of a foreign power and its lobbies in the US.”

Another protester, Zaid al-Harasheh, told AFP that Trump’s decision is “not for peace” and will “create more chaos.”

Trump’s declaration sparked anger across the Muslim world.

On Friday, clashes between thousands of Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip left two people dead and dozens more injured.

Israel seized control of Palestinian East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognized by the international community.

Full report at:



Tillerson warns Saudi Arabia about its actions in Middle East

Dec 8, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned Saudi Arabia about “the consequences” of its actions in the Middle East.

His warning came Friday during his brief visit to Paris, France, where he commented on Riyadh’s behavior toward Yemen, Qatar and other neighbors.

"With respect to Saudi Arabia's engagement with Qatar, how they're handling the Yemen war that they're engaged in, the Lebanon situation, we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and a bit more thoughtful in those actions to, I think, fully consider the consequences," Tillerson said.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a bloody military campaign early in 2015 and have, ever since, been ceaselessly pounding the country in an attempt to reinstall a former regime allied to Riyadh.

The Saudi-led coalition has also maintained an embargo on the country where, so far, over 12,000 civilians have been reportedly killed.

Riyadh tightened that embargo after a retaliatory missile attack from Yemen early in November. The Saudi regime has claimed that it has partially loosened that embargo in the face of massive international outcry.

The remarks by Tillerson come even as the US has itself been contributing to the Saudi-led war on Yemen both directly, through intelligence sharing and logistical support, and indirectly, with the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi regime.

Earlier in May, Tillerson’s boss, US President Donald Trump, signed a 350-billion-dollar arms deal with Riyadh.

Publicly, however, and as the Saudi-led atrocities in Yemen draw more attention, the US has been calling for Saudi restraint.

Earlier this week, Trump directed aides to urge Saudi leaders to immediately end the kingdom’s blockade on Yemen, a demand Tillerson renewed Friday by calling for its “complete end.”

The White House also issued a statement on the same day, urging the Saudis to facilitate the free flow of humanitarian aid to all of Yemen's ports and through the Sana'a airport.

In addition, a senior Trump administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "We wanted to be very clear with Saudi officials that the political environment here could constrain us if steps aren’t taken to ease humanitarian conditions in Yemen."

In Qatar, Saudi Arabia has led the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and other neighbors in enforcing a blockade of the tiny nation on allegations that Doha supports terrorism and is too close to Iran. Qatar has vehemently rejected the claims.

In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia is widely believed to have coerced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (pictured below) into stepping down and put him under house arrest.

On November 4, Hariri stunned Lebanon and the region by announcing his resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia. He accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, an allegation rejected by both sides.

Full report at:



Protesters in NYC slam Trump's decision on Jerusalem al-Quds

Dec 9, 2017

Hundreds of people have held a demonstration in New York to condemn US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

The protesters descended on Times Square on Friday night while chanting, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The demonstrators, who filled the sidewalks of Seventh Avenue, between 41st and 42nd streets, waved Palestinian flags or held up signs proclaiming, “Free free Palestine” and “End the Occupation."

In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump officially declared Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, saying his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.

Trump also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”

The Trump declaration was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy. Trump's decision was mostly aimed at pleasing his main supporters - Republican conservatives and evangelical Christian Zionists who comprise an important share of his voter base.

Following the announcement, massive protests against the United States broke out across the Muslim world, and even in many Western cities.

“The whole world knows that Jerusalem [al-Quds] is divided. Some part is for Israelis and the other part is Palestinian. So I can’t all of the sudden come and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to give New York to so and so,” Amal Al-Shrouf, a protester at Time Square, said.

“You’re seeing unrest not only in the US but all over the world,” said Omar Awad, president of the Islamic Center of Passaic County.

Sayel Kayed, who heads the New Jersey chapter of American Muslims for Palestine, described Trump's decision as a “slap in the face” for Muslims who face discrimination in Jerusalem al-Quds.

“This is a move to ethnically cleanse the Palestine area even more,” he said.

East Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied in 1967 and Israel later annexed it despite international condemnations. The occupied city's final status is one of the thorniest issues in the stalemated talks between the Palestinian Authority and Tel Aviv.

Claiming all of al-Quds as its "eternal and indivisible" capital, Israel annexed the eastern part, where a number of sites sacred to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are located, following the 1967 Six-Day War.

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Trump travel ban and his tweets argued at federal appeals court

By Ann E. Marimow

December 8, 2017

A Trump administration lawyer defending the latest travel ban on Friday was pressed to explain how the court could separate the president’s latest tweets from the government’s assertions that its new policy does not target Muslims.

In lively, aggressive questions, several judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit pointed to the president’s tweets last week sharing inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British activist.

“Do we just ignore reality and look at the legality to determine how to handle this case?” said Judge James A. Wynn Jr.

“The president has continued to make statements that some people regard to be anti-Muslim after the issuance of this order,” said Judge Diana Gribbon Motz. “Should we be surprised that it might be construed as an anti-Muslim order?”

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim M. Mooppan acknowledged that Trump’s commentary on Twitter represents the president’s official statements but said the content of those messages is not “legally relevant.” The third iteration of the ban, he said, is based on a months-long, worldwide review of information other countries share with the United States to vet visa applications.

“There’s no way you can conclude this is a Muslim ban,” Mooppan told the court during a two-hour oral argument at the 4th Circuit in Richmond.

Even as Mooppan faced tough questions at the 4th Circuit about the president’s statements, the judges acknowledged that no matter their findings, the Supreme Court is watching and has suggested it will have the final word.

In the lead-up to the argument on Friday, the administration got a big boost from the Supreme Court, which granted the president’s request to fully enforce the ban for certain residents of six mostly Muslim countries while challenges in lower courts play out.

Two lower courts had partially blocked the third iteration of the president’s order, permitting the administration to keep out only those without close ties to people or institutions in the United States.

ButThe unsigned opinion from the Supreme Court on Monday lifted injunctions issued by judges in Hawaii and Maryland and allowed the government to deny visas even if the applicants have bona fide relationships — a definition that includes grandparents, cousins, aunts and brothers-in-law.

The arguments Friday at the 4th Circuit come just two days after the Hawaii challenge was heard by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in Seattle. Although the justices did not include their reasoning on Monday, the order is a positive sign for the administration if the high court is asked to review the merits of the policy.

Only two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, noted their dissent.

At the 4th Circuit on Friday, Mooppan pointed out that challengers had alerted the Supreme Court to the recent tweets in a filing and said those statements had apparently not dissuaded the high court from lifting the injunctions.

A panel of 13 judges was considering the version of Trump’s policy that indefinitely bans certain travelers who are citizens of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad and Somalia. The latest ban also bars a much smaller number from North Korea and Venezuela, but they were not affected by the injunctions.

This is the second time the full 4th Circuit has reviewed the president’s immigration authority. The administration was forced to rewrite earlier travel ban versions after judges determined the orders were unconstitutional. In the last go-round in May, the court said in a 10-to-3 ruling that the travel ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The toughest questions for the challengers on Friday came from the three judges who were in the minority in the May ruling. Judges Paul V. Niemeyer and G. Steven Agee aggressively pressed attorney Cecillia D. Wang, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, about why the court shouldn’t defer to the president’s broad authority when it comes to national security and immigration.

“Where do we get the right to review the president’s foreign policy decision?” Niemeyer said.

Two other judges suggested that the court may be more limited in its ability to review the latest version because it was designed based on recommendations from homeland security officials concerned about the lack of information from the banned countries.

“The government has taken great pains to investigate what exactly are the threats that are posed,” said Judge Barbara Milano Keenan. “It arguably can be illogical, it can be flawed,” she said, “but the president can do it, can’t he, if he makes the required findings?”

Wang told the court that the government still cannot “single out one religion for disfavor” in violation of constitutional protections. The latest version is more onerous, she said, because it is “no longer a pause, but an indefinite ban” affecting more than 150 million people.

In court filings, the administration said challengers also have not shown how their constitutional rights are directly affected by the travel ban.

“None of their relatives or other aliens with whom they have a bona fide connection has actually been excluded yet by virtue of the proclamation,” according to the Justice Department filing.

The individuals challenging the ban are U.S. citizens and lawful residents whose relatives are seeking visas. Among them is an Iranian engineer who has lived in Maryland since 2012 with his wife, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. His wife is seeking a visa for her Iranian mother, who she has not seen in two years.

“It feels especially unjust and injurious that even while I am contributing to helping the government do its work, the government is now targeting me and telling me that my family and I do not belong here,” according to a statement filed in court by the engineer who works on major government contracts.

Another plaintiff is a researcher in pharmacology in Ohio who was born in Syria and has lived in the United States since 2001. Sumaya Hamadmad is trying to bring her father-in-law, also of Syria, to the United States for cancer treatments and to get to know his young grandchildren.

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Religious freedom bill hearing spurs talk on Muslim-majority nations

Dec 8, 2017

WASHINGTON — A House subcommittee hearing on a U.S. law to improve U.S. religious freedom diplomacy efforts globally prompted a discussion on how to expand those freedoms for religious minorities, particularly for those in Muslim-majority countries.

The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act was signed into law a year ago by President Barack Obama to give "tools and resources to our State Department to integrate religious freedom into our diplomacy the world over in order to counter violent extremism broad," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, chair of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, at the Dec. 6 hearing.

The law's features include designating non-state groups such as Islamic State as "violent non-state actors," making it easier to impose financial sanctions. It also creates a "designated persons list" of violators, sets up a database of those detained, imprisoned and tortured for their faith, and requires that foreign service officers undergo training in religious liberty "so that they are able to integrate this important tool into their daily work," Smith said.

It was a bipartisan measure written by Smith and co-sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California and named for former Congressman Frank Wolf, "a tireless champion for the rights of the poor and the persecuted globally." The advancement of fundamental human rights -- in particular, freedom of religion -- "should be a core objective of U.S. foreign policy," Smith said.

The 2016 law expanded the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which was passed to promote religious freedom as a foreign policy of the United States. The year-old law gave the U.S. State Department new tools, resources and training to counter extremism and combat a worldwide escalation of persecution of religious minorities.

U.S. action on human rights violations elsewhere has "entailed rhetorical condemnation of persecutors through annual reports and lists of particularly severe violators," said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Research Project at Georgetown University, one of the panelists who testified at the two-hour hearing.

Rare punitive actions were "reactive and ultimately ineffective," he added. "Our foreign policy and national security leadership should, on the basis of the evidence, make a conscious decision to integrate religious freedom into our national security strategy, and to generate far more diplomatic energy and resources than currently is the case."

"Freedom of religion or belief is unfortunately an unrealized ideal in too many parts of the world," said Sayyid Syeed, senior adviser in the Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America.

Syeed lauded the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious organizations that joined in 2010 to establish the "Shoulder to Shoulder" campaign to stand in solidarity with U.S. Muslims after a Florida pastor threatened to burn the Quran.

 He also named Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, for its efforts to "solve problems and bring relief" with Islamic Relief USA and similar organizations sponsored by other churches. "When we work together, across all faiths, America is stronger," he said.

Neil Hicks, director of human rights promotion for the group Human Rights First, suggested that governments foster terrorism within their own borders. "When governments stifle peaceful dissent, muzzle the media and prevent the legitimate activities of nonviolent civil society organizations, they are not countering extremism," he said, "they are fomenting it."

Hicks added, "Regrettably, in U.S. foreign policy a short-term interest in cooperation with authoritarian governments has too often prevailed over the long-term imperative to end the oppressive governance that has been a major driver of violent extremism."

His comments drew a rebuke from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, a subcommittee member. Citing the current Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as an example, "we should not try to nitpick them so they fall to radical Islamist regimes," he said. "They're not perfect. Well, neither are we."

Hicks replied there have been "thousands of deaths" since el-Sissi won the presidency in 2014. "That is not nitpicking. That is escalation."

Just this past April, a pair of terrorist attacks were carried out at two Egyptian churches. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the attacks, which killed at least 45 people and injured more than 100 others.

Panelist John Lenczowski, founder and president of the Institute of World Politics, likened the challenge posed by Muslim-majority nations to those under communism, requiring "soft power" responses such as information, ideology, cultural diplomacy, counter-propaganda and increased capacity for strategic communications.

"A war of information" should be the United States' next move, he noted, and one target audience should be women, who, according to Lenczowski, suffer greatly under Islam.

"The United States has spent trillions of dollars mostly fighting two wars to destroy terrorism-supporting regimes, seeking out terrorists and killing them. In doing so we have treated terrorism as principally a military and intelligence problem with little reference to what inspires it in the first place," Lenczowski said.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, the subcommittee's ranking minority member, told Lenczowski: "We made some pretty bad decisions while we were fighting communism (in Africa). We supported apartheid, we supported colonial powers."

She noted the 2016 Wolf religious freedom law's provision on training foreign service officers in religious-freedom issues could go for naught given there has been an accelerated departure of these officers, even though the Senate rejected a proposed State Department budget cut of up to 30 percent for the current fiscal year.

Bass added that religious freedom is in the eye of the beholder, as both some candidates for political office and members of Congress have declared that Muslims do not belong in Congress and that they should not take the oath of office with their hand on a Quran instead of a Bible.

Full report at:



U.S. Treasury Designates Jamaica-Based Islamic State Recruiter as Terrorist

8 Dec 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has added a prominent jihadi ideologue based in Jamaica to the American government’s list of specially designated global terrorists for recruiting prospective militants for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Referring to the ISIS jihadist in Jamaica—Abdullah Ibrahim al-Faisal, also known as Trevor William Forrest—John Smith, the director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), declared:

Faisal has recruited for and provided support to ISIS and his actions have influenced terrorists who engaged in bomb plots and other horrific attacks on innocent civilians. This designation will help deter Faisal’s global following and prevent U.S. persons from supporting him in any manner.

On December 5, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was imposing terrorist sanctions on Faisal.

In a press release, Treasury revealed:

Faisal was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIS.  As a result of today’s designation, all property and interests in property of Faisal subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.

In August, the New York County District Attorney’s office, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), unsealed an indictment charging the Faisal with recruiting and providing support to ISIS-affiliated jihadists seeking to committ acts of terror.

The United States is currently trying to extradite the Islamic terrorist from Jamaica.

When announcing the indictment against Faisal in late August, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said:

Shaikh Faisal has dedicated his life to terror recruitment. Through his lectures, website, and videos, he incites untold numbers of people around the world to take up the cause of jihad. As is alleged in this case, he provided material support to the Islamic State by facilitating the passage of a self-described ISIS sympathizer from New York to Syria.

The defendant also served as the fulcrum of a recruitment effort that encouraged individuals to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of the Islamic State and connected them with other radical supporters who were willing—or already in the process—of doing the same in countries around the world.

Treasury accused Faisal of “directly or indirectly” being connected to terrorist incidents linked to both ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda, including:

[T]he Ohio State University attacker during Thanksgiving weekend in 2016; a Garland, Texas shooter at a Mohammed drawing contest in 2015; Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber in New York City in 2010; Mohammed Chowdury, who planned and attempted to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2010; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber who attempted to down an airliner over Detroit, Michigan in 2009; two of the four bombers of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London; and Richard Reid, the 2001 shoe bomber.

Jamaica is home to an estimated 5,000 Muslims who make up less than 1 percent of the total population of about 2.9 million.

In 2016, the U.S. military estimated that 150 would-be jihadists have left the Caribbean to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Most (up to 125) of the Caribbean foreign fighters are from Trinidad and Tobago, described by the Associated Press (AP) as “the largest per-capita source” of recruits for the jihadist group in the Western Hemisphere.

Early this year, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) warned, “Violent extremist organizations like ISIS seek to radicalize and recruit vulnerable populations in the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America.”

SOUTHCOM, the U.S. State Department, and American lawmakers have acknowledged that ISIS maintains a presence in the Western Hemisphere.

“Faisal pushed his jihadist message long before the rise of the Islamic State. But he gravitated to [Abu Bakr al] Baghdadi’s cause as it gained steamed,” reported the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank.

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Trump Mideast advisor Dina Powell leaving white house

9 December 2017

President Donald Trump's deputy national security advisor, Dina Powell, is leaving the post early next year, the White House said Friday.

The Egyptian-born Powell, a top advisor on Middle East policy and a fluent Arabic speaker, has been part of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner's effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The announcement of her departure comes just two days after Trump declared official US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a widely criticized move that has sparked protests in the region and fears of escalating violence.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Powell had always planned to serve one year before returning home to New York, and her departure was unconnected to the Jerusalem decision.

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